By: Jake Frederick
With the start of her Eras tour, Taylor Swift has become an unavoidable presence in the media. There has been a huge discourse about Swift’s eras and which of her ten albums are the best. On TikTok alone there are thousands of videos where people rank the albums, arguing over the validity of other people’s rankings in the comments. It’s all in good fun, but the debates can become heated. I've personally spent hours debating with friends about whose ranking is more “accurate.” After hours of evaluating others’ rankings, I’ve come to notice a pretty common theme amongst them: evermore is consistently ranked low; an injustice that will no longer be tolerated.
evermore is Swift’s 9th studio album, released in 2020 six months after its sister album, folklore’s, release. Both folklore and evermore are folk albums, utilizing story-telling and an alternative pop sound to talk about Swift’s life and lessons she has learned. There is a running joke amongst Swift fans, “Swifties”, that evermore is her “forgotten” album, as it has received less attention than most albums and is usually remembered in association with folklore. Many people rank folklore and other Taylor Swift albums much higher than evermore, but evermore is Swift’s most mature album, and its writing and songs are her best sonically, thematically, and lyrically.
Evermore as a body of work is extremely complex; it explores so many aspects of human emotion: longing, grief, closure, love. By far, evermore is one of the deepest and most self-reflective albums I have ever listened to, and it doesn’t get the attention or credit that it’s due. Her background in bubbly, mainstream pop has been used to overlook the complexities of her lyrics, and because evermore lacks this pop sound entirely, it has gone mostly unnoticed.
So, why is evermore better than folklore even though they are sister albums? It explores much deeper themes than that of folklore in a more realistic lens. folklore’s content is story-like, using fictional characters to explore all of the mellow parts of being human. Evermore, however, uses fiction much less, and reflects on human emotion in a melancholy way. As many Swifties have also pointed out, evermore explores the concepts in folklore from an older, more mature perspective. This thematic content is more rich, and comes with an understanding that life continues despite tragedy.
If you care about lyrical and thematic content, evermore is by far Taylor’s superior body of work. The songs on evermore’s tracklist are extremely nuanced; Taylor’s lyricism is poetic and describes human emotion in a way that is raw and relatable. There’s such a variety of feeling in this album that isn’t represented as frequently in her other studio albums. When the songs on evermore engage in story-telling, it’s often more subtle than in her other albums. The song Ivy tells a story of infidelity and an affair in a way that is not as explicit, singing “my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand, taking mine, but it’s been promised to another.” The affair isn’t at the center of the song, and is understood from the dissection of a few lyrics. Her relationship has been ruined by this affair and her pain only grows while she’s caught in between a decision to stay in her relationship or run away with her lover. There’s a lot more subtlety in the lyrics in evermore and the larger theme of its tracks is not explicitly sung, rather understood by analyzing lyrical content, which is emblematic of Swift’s lyrical capabilities.
A track like Marjorie follows the grief of losing someone, in this case, Taylor’s late grandmother, Marjorie. She sings that she “should have asked her questions,” and even though she “knows better” it’s like “what died didn’t stay dead” because she can feel her grandmother all around her. The song explores such a relatable and universal part of grieving. Regretting the experiences you didn’t get to have can overshadow the experiences that you did have, and how those have contributed to your growth as a person– growth that becomes a legacy for the person who is no longer around.
Marjorie isn’t the only track that explores the complex nature of grief. My personal favorite track, happiness, explores what it’s like to wonder who will fill your place in a relationship that no longer exists. There is often a lack of closure when a relationship ends and a person is no longer in your life, but you know that they are continuing to live without you. Swift starts the track with a lot of anger, writing about all of the flaws in their relationship and the way that she projected the relationship’s failure onto herself. However, as happiness continues, the perspective becomes more objective, recognizing that there is no good in “making [the person] a villain,” and that both parties experiences happiness during their history, and even though that has ended, there will be a time where they both will experience happiness again, even if it is not with each other.
The song is my favorite because it shows a linear growth and a change in perspective as the song progresses; it’s clear that Taylor wrote this at a time after she was able to contemplate, rather than during the actual time the song discusses. This perspective is evident in a lot of evermore’s tracks which makes it so enjoyable – you feel her emotions develop and help her grow as a person. Marjorie and happiness are just two of evermore’s introspective songs, but they demonstrate Swift’s clear capability to explore the nuances of emotion from entirely different perspectives and situations.
Evermore is a consistent and thorough body of work. The entire album can be dissected for explorations of humanity and universal lessons. This exploration is not only a discussion of what it’s like to feel various emotions, but it’s also a discussion of the growth that comes with reflection and evolution as a result of what has happened. If you’re looking for poetic and complex lyrical content and a solid tracklist that takes introspection and makes it a universal statement on growth and emotion, then you should listen to evermore by Taylor Swift. By far, the album is the strongest and most impactful in Swift’s discography, and if you’ve made it this far in my article, take another listen to the album and re-evaluate your rankings.