Taylor Swift is never where you expect her to be. Passing from princess of the country queen of pop, the star operates a new turn with “Folklore”, eighth album entirely conceived during the confinement and released to general surprise this Friday, just a few hours after its official announcement. Forget the pop and color universe of “Lover”, an effective but fairly wise seventh album: the singer is reinventing herself here as a folk artist, black and white photography in the American countryside. Also forget Max Martin or Joel Little, behind his hits “Shake It Off” and “You Need To Calm Down”. If she keeps Jack Antonoff the production, Taylor Swift surrounds herself with new cadets like Bon Iver, one of the big names in American folk, or Aaron Dessner, the guitarist of the ind rock group The National. Two amazing names at first sight in the Swift galaxy but which fit perfectly into this “Folklore”.
Breaks on folk background
This multiplicity of talents makes “Folklore” a fascinating album and even ahead of its time. If it comes out in the middle of a scorching summer, the record is intended more for autumnal nights, by the fireside with a hot coffee in hand. Taylor Swift no longer accompanies great flashy musical effects, only an acoustic guitar and a piano with delicate notes dress most of the pieces. A collection of songs and stories who sees the singer mainly talking about romantic breakups, as on “The 1” ( You know the greatest films of all time were never made ), “this is me trying” ( I didn’t know if you’d care if I came back, I have a lot of regrets about that ) or the first single “Cardigan” ( You drew stars around my scars, but now I’m bleedin’ ), but also the story of the composer Rebekah Harkness (“the last great american dynasty”), a childhood friend (“seven”), her conflict with Scooter Braun (“mad woman”) and even the current state of the world (“epiphany”).
Listen to Taylor Swift and Bon Iver’s “exile”:
If no empty tube stands out from the whole, it’s because you have to see “Folklore” as an album to listen to in its entirety, in order to let yourself be transported into the soft and hovering universe set up by the star for over an hour. Obviously, many ppites pull their pin from the game: the sumptuous “exile”, a duet with Bon Iver who is unanimous, “my tears ricochet”, “this is me trying” or “seven” are all touching ballads and successes which take us into the privacy and flaws of the popstar with 200 million records sold. The influence of The National, of which the guitarist composed or produced 11 of the 16 tracks, is felt moreover on the hovering “mirrorball” (which Aaron Dessner did not however make) or “epiphany” with his arian sounds disseminated here and there by the American musician. A mix of genres that seems to have been made for Taylor Swift for years.
Now classified in the “indie” or “alternative” genres on streaming platforms (which she plays with song titles written in lowercase), Taylor Swift has the luxury of making a 180-degree turn while seducing a wide circle of fans, to believe the first rave reviews of the press and its public. We can also be surprised by the impeccable production that emerges, for a record composed entirely during these months of confinement. Some may criticize its linear side, but there is the force of the disc, which offers a real refreshment in the career of Taylor Swift, after two projects far from unforgettable. Soft, sober and really seductive, “Folklore” is discovered and listened to with real pleasure and should accompany us throughout the fall. If “1989” represented the peak of Taylor Swift pop discography, “Folklore” arises without problem as the other great album of a singer never short of surprises.
Check out the music video for “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift:
The turn was risky, the bet is easily won. Taylor Swift makes a magnificent invention as a folk star with an autumnal and melancholic album, perfectly mastered. Helped by Bon Iver or Aaron Dessner, the “folkstar” signs an enthralling record which is rediscovered over the cost. Look no further, here is the soundtrack for the coming months!