Itâs Swifty season ever more
With the also surprise arrival of her ninth studio album, evermore, it is now a fact that being cooped up at home has rendered Taylor Swift doubly prolific.
Photo from Swift’s Instagram

It’s Swifty season ever more

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2021 - 12:00am

It is Swifty again. I mean take a look at the hit charts of the world and there she is, an ubiquitous presence with her new album evermore and the latest single, the romantic willow. And take note, the video of that song, which she directed, is also gracefully bending and shaking every which way on YouTube and other sites.

Why, was it not only a few months ago when Taylor Swift accomplished a similar feat? That one happened last July with the sudden arrival, sans any promo of the stripped-down album Folklore, and the accompanying singles led by the lovely Cardigan. A surprise release during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Folklore, a departure from her alt-rock formula, took Swift to greater heights.

Well, with the also surprise arrival of her ninth studio album, evermore, it is now a fact that being cooped up at home has rendered Swifty doubly prolific, wonderfully creative and most of all in total command of her poetic language. With no concert tours to think about, she eschews big arena pleasers and now casts her ballads in a soft, melancholy mood.

It is in the sad songs that she truly excels this time around. Along with the pared down arrangements, Swifty has also stripped herself of any effort to hide the darkness. She is facing her disappointments head-on. And it is, when she is in this frame of mind that her words set against pretty melodies flow with such sure-footed ease. It is then when her songwriting is at its best.

Cleverly, she bookends evermore with the saddest songs that are also the best cuts of the album. To open, the undulating willow expresses longing so painful and so palpable. “I’m like the water when your ship rolled in that night/ rough on the surface/ but you cut through like a knife.” Ouch. In closing, the title track shrouds the listener with painful resignation. “Catching my death and I couldn’t be sure/ I had a feeling so peculiar that this pain would be for evermore.” Double ouch!

I never thought there would come a time when I would be waxing rapturous about Swift’s songwriting. But that is what I am doing now. She was a cute talented teenager with her Love Story and she showed maturity in Blank Space. Now with Folklore and evermore, she has turned into one of the best songwriters of her time.

Swifty’s usual themes are all present in her latest. There is the doomed relationship in champagne problems. Sparkling country lilts in gold rush and cowboy like me, a weird tale of murder in no body, no crime, childhood memories in coney island, a tribute to her grandmother, marjorie and the all-important break-up song. She has two of the latter, happiness and ‘tis the damn season, which has a Christmas setting.

There are some critics who have said that evermore is inferior to Folklore. It has been said that it suffers from lack of coherence because it is made up of out-takes from its well-thought out predecessor. Maybe it does and is something like a tolerated poor relation. I think of it though as a little sister. Swift has created two albums that are full of similarities and yet are totally different.

Thinking about this has resulted in what I think is a great idea. I noticed that though closing in sadness, evermore shows hints of hope. She ends the song with the line, “This pain will not be evermore.” So, wouldn’t it be nice if Swifty could come out with a third album soon. A youngest sister, that is either glowing with true love or wallowing in deeper despair. If she does, she would have then turned her musings in the time of the corona into an enchanting trilogy.

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