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Taylor Swift fans can’t believe their luck this week as they receive the early Christmas present which is yet another surprise album from their idol. Always barely five months later Folklore; the result of a fruitful creative experience that never seemed to end for Swift and her team. Overall, the lockdown has been a heck of a musical hit for this pop star.
Leader alone willow opens the album with a dose of cool, sweet rock with sparkling synths and the most catchy chorus on the record. Then comes the slower piano ballad of Champagne problems. There’s something about Taylor Swift that makes her so good at melancholy minor drops; she doesn’t need to overproduce when her music is so melodically evocative.
On the other hand, she relies a little too often on Always so we end up with a few filling tracks. Tolerate it does not particularly stand out, nor does the synthesized pop ballad which is Marjorie, or the tinted country Ivy and Cowboy like me. It’s the fucking season is another acoustic track that we were hoping would be a little festive, but, alas, there’s nothing specially Christmas about it that we can’t help but be disappointed with.
Still, there is enough here to keep us tuned in. Gold Rush lifts the album to dreamy heights with a rhythmic melody that drags the listener into a trance – much like Joy which is another uplifting song, almost like an anthem on the record.
No body, no crime starring the Haim sisters is definitely a highlight. It’s essentially an ironic murder ballad, tracing it back to its roots with country flavor, but wilder in the west than Nashville sweetheart.
There is some suggestion that Taylor Swift is looking further into real crime Always with songs Marjorie and Dorothy, many speculating that this is a reference to fellow Pennsylvania Marjorie and Dorothea West; the first being a well-documented missing person in the 1930s and the second being his sister. However, this could be largely a coincidence since Marjorie is actually named for Taylor’s late grandmother. Dorothy is a rather lively piano number than Marjorie full of childhood nostalgia; the “Doratheee-ah” refraining will take some time to get out of your head. It is one of the most enjoyable trails.
Coney Island featuring The National is another welcome collaboration. An acoustic indie rock number where the gritty tone of Matt Berninger’s vocals adds some depth, contrasting beautifully with Taylor’s soft, airy vocals. Certainly, the collaborations here help keep the album interesting.
The penultimate Closures is the issue produced by BJ Burton which is a bit more experimental, but doesn’t take it to the extreme. Again, a little disappointing, but not surprising when the rest of the album is a bit on the bright side. The title track with Bon Iver, however, makes sure the album ends on a memorable note, conveying a final wave of emotional energy that can always be counted on when it comes to this five-piece from Wisconsin. .
As expected, Always follows pretty much the same vein as Folklore; it’s largely stripped down, imbued with warmth and coziness, and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, you get the feeling that Taylor Swift enjoyed going back to her more acoustic roots immensely. Even the explicit language suggests a more relaxed and raw songwriting process. This is the chill-out album we needed to end this stressful year.