“And just like a folksong our love will be passed on,” sings Taylor Swift on the song ‘seven’ on her new album Folklore. This is an album of love stories, but not necessarily Swift’s. There’s a rumour that some of the tracks tell the tale of a doomed teenage love affair. It’s certainly a confusing album if you attempt to analyse it from an autobiographic angle – has she broken up with her long-term boyfriend? Is she coming out as bisexual? No, it seems that Swift is finally embracing her potential as a storyteller. This is most evident on tracks like ‘the last great american dynasty’ which tells the story of socialite Rebekah Harkness, previous owner of Swift’s mansion. But is also implied on the ‘The Teenage Love Triangle’ of ‘betty’, ‘cardigan’ and ‘august’ (though I’d add ‘illicit affairs’ to the narrative).
I heard someone say that Folklore sounds like the music that Swift herself would listen to at home. And if the lockdown is producing albums as thoughtful and well-realised as this, maybe we should slow down more often. As Taylor herself says, “In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed Taylor Swift’s Folklore Ana Hine Ana Hine like a stream of consciousness. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve.”
Personally, I find ‘exile’, a duet with indie darlings Bon Iver, and ‘my tears ricochet’ resonate with me the most. Lines like, “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace, cause when I’d fight you used to tell me I was brave,” “And I can go anywhere I want, anywhere I want, just not home,” and “You turned into your worst fears/and you’re tossing out blame, drunk on this pain/crossing out the good years,” perfectly capture the betrayal and grief of a bad break-up.
It definitely doesn’t feel like Swift forced herself to make this album, rather it seems like Folklore is something she needed to write. It certainly feels like she’s finally relaxing, like she has nothing left to prove. I’m looking forward to being able to buy the CD.
Words: Ana Hine
Image: Beth Garrabrant