Music with Natalie: “Folklore”
By Natalie Daniels
“Folklore” by Taylor Swift isn’t technically a new album in terms of its release date in August, but it’s the newest album to make an impact on me.
As a big Taylor Swift fan from her country days to when she evolved to pop, this album came as a huge surprise to me. A good surprise.
Folklore is a story riddled in metaphors and emotions. Categorized as an indie-folk album, Folklore steers clear of any of Taylor’s big ensemble pop numbers from albums like “1989,” “Reputation,” and “Lover.” This album comes from a place of isolation, as most of us have felt the past couple of months.
As Taylor approaches her 30s, her music reflects exactly where she exists in terms of knowledge, realizations, and maturity. She likes to tell stories in her lyrics. Many times, she takes inspiration from her life and relationships. While this album takes from her experience, she also tells stories from other people’s perspectives.
She begins the album with “The 1,” a steady but groovy track with Taylor’s straightforward tone and angelic backing vocals that help set up the rest of the album. The lyrics talk about pondering a past love & relationship and how things could’ve been different if things worked out.
Her next song, “Cardigan,” introduces the story of a love triangle between 3 people. This love triangle continues with two other songs called “August” and “Betty” later in the album. “Cardigan” is from the perspective of a girl who has found out her boyfriend has cheated on her. With special drum sound effects that sound like dripping water, an organic piano melody, and lyrics that compare the girl to an old cardigan, this song highlights the pain of losing trust in the person who made you feel special.
“August” comes from the perspective of the girl who is the cause of the triangle. With the strumming of a guitar and an addition of a drum beat, the song tells the story of the affair. The song comes to a climax with the sudden heightened speed of the bridge where you can feel the heartbreak. She sings lyrics like “cause you were never mine,” to show how painful it also is for the girl involved in the affair.
The final song in the triangle, “Betty,” is from the perspective of the boyfriend who cheated on their girlfriend. Going back to her country roots, this song incorporates an acoustic guitar and a harmonica to illustrate how he laments what he’s done and wants her back. When listening to this song, you find out that his name is James and he’s singing to his girlfriend Betty. Also, you find out that these characters are in high school at the crisp age of 17. The best part of this song is the key change when James begs Betty to love him again.
Taylor tells another tale in the song “The Last Great American Dynasty.” The song focuses on Taylor’s house in Rhode Island and the “misfit” woman Rebecca who owned it before her. This song is more upbeat than the others and makes me feel so powerful as a woman. I can see directors using this in a female-centered coming of age story.
The songs “Invisible String” and “Peace” seem to be a reflection of Taylor’s current relationship with boyfriend Joe Alwyn. “Invisible String” sounds like a love letter to her boyfriend with the layering of a string guitar and a delicate beat. She explicitly says that there is an “invisible string” that tied her and Joe together. On the other hand, “Peace” uses an electric guitar and Taylor’s sweet voice to convey that she will always be there for her lover but that it won’t always be easy. Simply, she says “I could never give you peace.”
The album ends with the haunting ballad “Hoax.” With one solid piano line carrying the track, Taylor sings of her fragile mental state. While Taylor laments about some of the issues in her present relationship, she doesn’t want to end it. She’d rather rough out the difficult issues with this person rather than someone else. It’s a somber ending to an album like this.
Some of my favorites from the album include “Betty,” “The Last Great American Dynasty,” “Seven,” “Invisible String,” “Peace,” and “Mad Woman.”
Taylor has done it again with her lyrical mastermind to create an album that speaks to so many people especially during this period of the unknown. If this is her first album for her 30s, I can’t wait to see what she releases in the future.
Natalie Daniels is an editorial intern for Dreamlette. She is a journalism major at Emerson College with a love of storytelling. Her favorite topics include entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, social issues, and music.