We have all watched Taylor Swift grow from a 15-year-old country singer to a pop icon with the release of Red. Backed up by heavy electronic music, she delved into a darker persona in the wake of the mass public scrutiny during her Reputation era. Finally, she sobered down and grew into a sparkling pop princess in Lover.
There had always been arguments and disagreements over which one of her personas and albums brought out the best of her to us, musically. And, although her stark transition from Reputation to Lover had been surprising for all of us, it did not catch us as off guard as her latest 2020 release.
On June 23, Taylor Swift announced the release of Folklore and in less than 24 hours, she rolled out the album for the public to devour.
Folklore is unlike her previous releases in more than one ways. For one, the swift drop with no prior promotions and teases contrasts her musical career so far, or at least since Red when social media promotions had taken off. Taylor Swift has had her own style of promoting her albums with months of teases and Easter eggs hidden in all her media appearances. Compared to all of that when we look at Folklore and its release, it seems more raw and intimate.
In Folklore she has left behind the glam and glitter and even the album art seems like a grainy image collected from the hazy memory lanes of a person; which is exactly what the album itself is. There are no "singles" and no songs specially formulated with catchy hooks to be stuck in our minds and to be played on the speakers of every mall outlet in a loop. But, even then you will be coming back for more because this time, instead of the catchy hooks, it will be the stories that will be stuck with you.
The whole album is a collection of indie-pop ballads with her vocals and storytelling taking centre-stage this time away from all the musical processing of her usual pop music. However, what sets this album apart from the rest is the sincerity behind her voice this time. In the past she seemed to have struggled to find her place in music and the flashy radio-friendly hits have been put down by fans on many occasions. She always seemed to have sung for her fans and wrote songs trying to appease them.
So, what is this album trying to do? This time around, she has found her own voice. She is pouring her imagination onto paper and she is writing these stories solely for herself. Then later on, as if an afterthought, she shares her creation with the public.
Tasnim Odrika can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org