Hello everyone! It’s Natali and Elodie from the WHI Gazette management team! Like many of you, we were so excited when Taylor Swift announced her surprise album, Folklore, which released July 24th.

The album boasted Taylor’s debut into yet another genre, indie/alternative, with some definite folk undertones. Folklore has already broken records, becoming Spotify's album with the most one-day streams at 80.6 million in only 24 hours. This is even without the months of pre-release promotion that her other albums like Reputation or Lover received.

Folklore is a concept album, which Swift explained in a statement claiming the isolation of the pandemic allowed her imagination to run wild and her creative inspiration to be sparked. The album revolves around various stories, depicted in songs told by shifting points of views.

Part of her statement reads:

“It started with imagery. Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity.”
“Pretty soon these images in my head grew faces or names and became characters. I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspectives of people I’ve never met, people I’ve known, or those I wish I hadn’t. An exiled man walking through the bluffs of a land that isn’t his own, wondering how it all went so terribly, terribly wrong. An embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession. A seventeen-year-old standing on a porch, learning to apologize. Lovestruck kids wandering up and down the evergreen High Line. My grandfather, Dean, landing at Guadalcanal in 1942. A misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out.
… “I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve.”
“Now it’s up to you.”

Read the rest of her statement at her Instagram.

Without further ado, let’s get into discussing the album!

📷, @taylorswift, and instagram taylorswift image
the 1
"Roaring twenties, tossing pennies in the pool. And if my wishes came true. It would have been you"
wishing well image happiness, wish, and be happy image dress, book, and style image Image by Private User
No amount of wishes in a pool could have changed the ending, but the 20’s like love was enough to keep wishing and hoping. He was always her number one, he was the one for her, but perhaps she wasn’t the one for him.

cardigan, song, and folklore image

Cardigan sets the scene of a young love that was underestimated and conclusively shattered despite parts of the love feeling like comfort.

Taylor Swift image folklore and Taylor Swift image
"And when I felt like I was an old cardigan, Under someone's bed, You put me on and said I was your favourite."

The lyrics expose a lot of vulnerability, she discovered an abundance of warmness with him. She never felt like she measured up to others, she didn’t appear like she belonged or that she knew where she fits in when it came to the world. She didn’t think of herself as anything too special, just an old article of clothing that was abandoned and overlooked under a bed, lost amongst things that can’t be explained. She was raw and filled with obscurity until he reassured her and gave her a sense of home and warmth. She was his favourite cardigan, she was his home and warmth just as much as she wanted it for herself. She was his favourite cardigan, but what was she truly to him?

Betty, wallpaper, and lockscreen image cardigan, folklore, and Taylor Swift image
"A friend to all is a friend to none. Chase two girls, lose the one."

This…. This depicts how someone can follow the social hierarchy and be friends with everyone, but at the end of the night, when he is crawling into bed after a night with “friends” he’s alone, he has no friends. Just because you are a friend to all, it doesn’t mean you’re a friend at all or to all. He’s a “friend” to all but to the one’s who sincerely care for him. He pursued two girls, exploring and attempting to play the game, forgetting that he chased two only to lose the one. He lost the one that was his friend— he lost the one that was his favourite cardigan— the one who gave him a sense of home, the one who showed him what love was. He lost the one he’d marry by chasing a figment of ‘what could be,’ he pursued because his favourite cardigan was just one he’d lose under his bed while in search of something new, omitting the sentiment of the old.

cardigan, disney, and folklore image Taylor Swift and folklore image
"Tried to change the ending. Peter losing Wendy, I, I knew you."

Sometimes, no matter how much you know and love someone, you can’t alter the conclusion, you can’t change what fate has already set out. He chased two girls and in return, he lost his Wendy, he lost his one true love chasing stars. He desired her to stay, to live in a neverland and timeless romance but at his convenience. She knew him, she knew who he was when she first met him, she knew him as the one who danced in Levi’s, but now she doesn’t. She sought to give him the benefit of the doubt, she tried to recognise who he is, but he had changed, all she had was the memories of what once was.

the last great american dynasty
"Filled the pool with champagne and swam with the big names. And blew through the money on the boys and the ballet."
Image by S a m u e l a Image by Lara dress, dance, and ball image classy, elegant, and feed image
These lyrics say it all, she lived her best life, blowing money with the biggest names around. She was living the high life without a care in the world. She has alcohol and friends, the party life was enough.
This is also the story of Rebekah Harkness, the socialite that owned the Holiday House in Rhode Island that Taylor currently owns now. She also, ironically, went by Betty.

exile ft. bon iver
“I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending. You’re not my homeland anymore, so what am I defending now?”
forest, tree, and nature image dark and rain image hands and touch image old, photos, and vintage image
Taylor Swift and Bon Iver on a track together? Of course I’m going to love it. I think his presence on this album is definitely felt and really separates folklore apart from the rest of her discography. Bon Iver has such a unique sound that fits perfectly on an album that has indie/folk vibes.

my tears ricochet
"And if I'm on fire, you'll be made of ashes, too."
"And if I'm dead to you, why are you at the wake?”
fire and hands image dark, aesthetic, and night image actress, beauty, and black image candles, catholicism, and christmas image
Lyrically, this song is powerful, It is the ultimate power move of a breakup song. ”And if I’m on fire, you’ll be made to ashes, too.” She isn’t going down without a fight, if she goes down, she is taking him with her. There is no way he is getting away with having a picture-perfect image. She also puts an emphasis on something that is broken and ended but the other person is still somewhat committed in a way, they claim she is dead, but they’re at the wake, they’re still there, watching, even though they say they want nothing to do with her.

“You are not like the regulars, the masquerade revelers, drunk as they watch my shattered edges glisten”
disco, red, and heels image stars, gold, and glitter image carrie fisher, badass, and leia organa image 90s, alternative, and indie image
This song is so soft it makes me want to dance around my room. Taylor’s vocals really shine on this track -- delicate and innocent,which make it the perfect transition into the next song, Seven.

"Please, picture me in the weeds before I learned civility"
Image by Private User aesthetic, little women, and book image flowers, nature, and forest image hair, girl, and braid image
This song is a heartbreaking mixture of bittersweet nostalgia and innocence. I picture climbing trees and running around fields with a childhood friend whose name you can’t quite place anymore, but in that memory you know you love them so deeply -- the kind of unselfish love only a child can afford to give.

"And I can see us twisted in bedsheets, August sipped away like a bottle of wine”
cole sprouse, five feet apart, and will image Image by charlinedbs girl, nature, and forest image girl, aesthetic, and sun image
If the feeling of the warmth of summer clinging on as the cool breeze of autumn is coming at the turn of seasons could be transformed into a song, this would be it.

this is me trying
"You're a flashback in a film reel on the one screen in my town.”
etsy, photography, and whimsical image billboards, ny, and people image him, broken, and leave image art, lense, and reel image
You ever tried to forget something and you just can’t? It follows you and haunts you? Yeah, this is what this feels like to me. No matter how far from the city you go, no matter what you do, when you come home, there’s memories attached to parts of you that just play repeatedly.

illicit affairs
“Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me, you showed me colours you know I can't see with anyone else.”
nails, water, and aesthetic image love and couple image dress, book, and style image couple, love, and dress image
When you’re incredibly invested with someone you know you shouldn’t be, you find yourself in a mess, but it’s a mess you don’t ever want to clean. To me, this screams that she felt she didn’t feel whole without him, her world was in colours she had never seen before— it references back to one of her older songs where the lyrics are, “The world was black and white, but we were in screaming colour.”
This affair was a masterpiece she didn’t want to give up, even though she knew she had to. She knew it was creating something that would break in the end, she knew there were toxic parts, but she wanted the colours.

invisible string
“Time. curious time, gave me no compasses gave me no signs. Were there clues I didn’t see? And isn’t it just so pretty to think all along there was some invisible string?”
couple, love, and kiss image girl, piano, and music image autumn, fall, and city image love, hands, and red image
I love how this song adds to the concept of the album. It brings a really fresh take to the idea of fate that has been passed down over the years. It’s soft and warm, and asks the question: is love simply fate or are you tied to your soulmate by some form of predestined bond? It’s symbolic of Taylor’s growth and her acknowledgement that the love she has now would not be as sweet without all the trials that came before him.

mad woman
"And women like hunting witches too, doing all your dirtiest work for you. It’s obvious that wanting me dead has really brought you two together."
animals, anime, and art image coat, free, and forest image edit, victory, and percy jackson image doll face image
There’s still a little bit of reputation in this folktale. Taylor’s take on feminism in music is so smart. Unlike The Man, from Lover, which seems to take on the patriarchy head-on without backing down, Mad Woman is a softer, tragic look at the hypocrisy of villainizing women -- which has been done to her countless times. When I first listened to it, I immediately pictured the Salem Witch Trials, as women were labelled as inherently evil for simply existing. It’s one of the darkest songs on the album and leans into the theme of folklore, as this sort of treatment of women is something that has been passed down year after year, and it’s something she wanted to immortalize in her art so that the truth of the injustice is never erased. Taylor’s vocals are as haunting as the lyrics she wrote -- there’s so much pain in her voice that the truth in the words can’t be denied. She has experienced everything she’s singing even though it’s meant to simply be a story.

"But you dream of some epiphany, just one single glimpse of relief."
black and white, inspirational, and relationships image Harry Styles, one direction, and dunkirk image michelle williams, retro vintage, and world war ii image world war ii, interracial couple, and love image
Honestly, I can’t listen to this song, I can’t get to the end. Deep lyrics but I just can't listen.

“Slept next to her, but. I dreamt of you all summer long.”
aesthetics, photography, and skin image actor, couple, and hug image bed, bed sheets, and bedroom image fantasy, girl, and magic image
I love how Taylor can change the point of views and is talking about James and how he is thinking about what he did to Betty. Taylor doesn’t try to hide the heartbreak between the two of them because of James' actions. Tim Mcgraw said it best when he said ”Know the difference between sleeping with someone and sleeping with someone you love.” James slept with someone else, he lied beside another body but dreamt of Betty, his heart was with Betty but his body was with someone else.

"All these people think love's for show, but I would die for you in secret. The devil's in the details, but you got a friend in me. Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?”
music and piano image aesthetic and dark academia image flowers, love, and aesthetic image vintage, music, and old image
One of the best songs on the track both lyrically and vocally. It’s one of those things where, she is proving a point, she is proving her love is true but it’s low key, she would die for him in secret because she is scared of what people would think if she showed her true feelings. Her friends think love is just another word and for show, to her, it is deeper. She loves him but she knows deep down it won’t ever be perfect, it won’t be the love that is on display, it won’t be authentic-- what he gives her is only for show. Lyrically speaking, they’re both the devil in the details.

"Stood on the cliffside screaming, "Give me a reason!” Your faithless love's the only hoax I believe in”
vintage, indie, and photography image Image by ♡🅻🅰🅳🅴🅴_ORCHARD♥︎ water, feet, and dress image bird and music image
I love how Taylor is able to morph so easily into any genre she sets her mind to. The piano and instrumentals in this song are so phenomenal combined with her vocals -- it’s almost like she’s taking the genre of folk and putting her name on it, leaning into the classics of what define the genre while not sacrificing her style. Despite it being a song that sounds like none of her others, there’s no doubt about it that is still intrinsically Taylor Swift. What allows her to morph so effortlessly is how intimate and personal each of her songs are -- they aren’t written by a random outside composer, but were born with her and have grown with her until the finished product is a jaw-dropping work of art. That truth is so obvious in this piece.

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This article was written by @nataliporzia and @authorelodie on the We Heart It Gazette writing team.