Taylor Swift is back with her second album release of 2020, evermore (language). It’s a “sister record” to folklore, released earlier this year in July, following a similar pattern of folksy emotional ballads. The album is soft, understated, muted, with some classic Swift angst mixed in—a continuation of her new cabin-chillin vibe complete with flannels and loose braids.
Taylor Swift’s new sound continues
“It feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music…We chose to wander deeper in.” —Taylor Swift in a statement with The New York Times
Whether or not you’re a fan of Swift’s new folksy style, it seems to be paying off. In “willow,” Swift sings, “But I come back stronger than a ’90s trend,” and come back she has. With collaborators like Bon Iver and The National, Swift is taking her ever-changing style and running with it. While your teen may have enjoyed her fun pop songs centered on broken love and revenge, this change of pace is more likely to draw in the raw, emotional, and vulnerable side of our teens.
The album as a whole discusses themes of relationships, death, desire, and much more. It’s a slow drift away from her pop past, as she turns even further inward than she did in folklore. Soft acoustics match her mellow, and often sad stories—some her own, others made up.
Swift described “willow,” the album’s lead track, as a song “about intrigue, desire and the complexity that goes into wanting someone.”
Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind
Head on the pillow, I could feel you sneakin’ in
As if you were a mythical thing
Like you were a trophy or a champion ring
And there was one prize I’d cheat to win
Willows have long hanging branches that ebb and flow with the pulls of the wind, with roots that keep it firmly grounded. Swift compares her relationship with her lover to this sense of bendiness: at times, they seem to be swaying out of control, but their roots keep them firmly in place.
Though Swift does not intend a religious message with these lyrics, it’s hard not to draw parallels with the Christian life. We’re all like weeping willows, swaying with the pulls of life, yet firmly grounded in Christ. Though we bend, our roots are deep and strong.
In “champagne problems,” Swift breaks from an autobiographical style of songwriting to fiction writing, paralleled in folklore’s “betty.” The song is about a broken engagement, and given that Swift and Joe Alwyn are very much in love, we can assume that this is not a reflection of her own personal experience. This style of storytelling seems to be a new staple of Swift’s songwriting—a style that invites listeners into her make-believe world of love, heartache, and real emotions.
“I have no idea what will come next. I have no idea about a lot of things these days and so I’ve clung to the one thing that keeps me connected to you all. That thing always has and always will be music. And may it continue, evermore.” —Taylor Swift via Twitter
There’s a beautiful sentiment in that statement. In a year of quarantines, strained friendships, battles with mental health, country-wide distress, and a general sense of aimlessness, Swift reminds her fans of the importance of having anchors, and holding onto life-giving things. For your teen, that may be art, or music, or sports. It may be reading and journaling, or hiking and exploring. For many, we hope, it is the Lord—and yet he meets us in all of these ways. So however your teen connects, encourage them to pursue that. And find and pursue what that is for you yourself!. We don’t always know what’s coming next—we’re all feeling the uncertainty of that right now—but we know we can hang tight to the things that give us joy and peace.
If you haven’t yet, give this album a listen. With the exception of a few curse words and sad themes, evermore is rather mild and harmless. Nonetheless, some of these stories may bring about difficult feelings for your teen if they’re feeling lonely right now, so we encourage you to explore the lyrics for yourself, then start a conversation with your kid.