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‘evermore’ by Taylor Swift: a masterful melancholy

Partially obstructed view of a handwritten track list from Taylor Swift's album 'Evermore'.
(Photo by Hannah Donald)

Have you ever really looked at Taylor Swift’s lyrics? And I mean really, truly looked and understood what she is trying to say? Well, her ninth studio album evermore would be a good place to start.

“She would have made such a lovely wife,

what a shame she’s fucked in the head.

But you’ll find the real thing instead,

she’ll patch up your tapestry that I shred,”

Champagne Problems, Taylor Swift, Track 2

With the deluxe version containing 17 tracks including two ‘alternate ending’ bonus tracks, evermore may just be her most genius creation yet.

Released 11 December 2020, less than five months after her album folklore, evermore explores themes of bittersweet reminiscence and abandonment.

Working closely with producer Aaron Dessner, songwriter Jack Antonoff and boyfriend Joe Alwyn, Taylor Swift brings her vision of evermore to life, intending it to be a sequel to folklore.

As a journey of conflict resolution, the album creates different tales of closure. Similar to other works by Swift, evermore uses signature lyrical poetry to convey a creative narrative.

The heartbroken protagonist of the album admits fault in the destruction of her relationship. However, it appears that both lovers are to blame.

Whereas folklore feels like a young, inexperienced woman’s account of blossoming into adulthood, the character in evermore has felt real pain, and holds a more mature account of events.

Field looking over a line of pine trees in Autumn, with fog in the air
(Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger – sourced from Pexels)

Think autumn leaves, winter fires, flannels and cold clear nights; this album transports it’s listeners into new seasons of pain, waving through phases, creating nostalgia for a love we do not know.

Clever use of language, syncopated rhythms and powerful bridges provide the album with a depth that Swift has yet to explore in her music.

Crossing genres of folk, indie-rock and her signature country influence, Swift creates a masterpiece like no other, paving the way for future artists looking to expand their skillset.

Time for a deep dive

Track 1, willow, leads us to lust by creating a whimsical air of optimism, intrigue and desire, only to immediately burn that hope as Track 2, champagne problems, tears into the devastating story of a failed proposal.

Continuing down the titles lands us on tolerate it, a crushing story of someone’s love not being fully reciprocated, even after trying so hard.

”I wait by the door like I’m just a kid,

Use my best colours for your portrait.

Lay the table with the fancy shit,

And watch you tolerate,”

Tolerate It, Taylor Swift, Track 5

Reminiscing on times where the protagonist was denied acceptance by her partner, tolerate it is a gut-wrenching tale of unappreciated demand. This leads us directly into the murderous track 6.

No body, no crime, a collaboration with musical trio HAIM, details the thrilling story of murder, accusation and feminine rage.

Unlike any of Swift’s music before, this track shows just how capable of revenge she is. We have previously been able to experience her anger in previous titles like Bad Blood and Look What You Made Me Do. However, nothing can quite compare to this cunning masterpiece.

After crime, we experience, in this listener’s opinion, the most devastating song Taylor Swift has produced – Track 7, happiness.

Maybe it’s my personal experience, or just Swift’s lyrical genius, but Happiness brings forward feelings of both regret of the past and fear of the future; regret of causing pain and anguish to someone you love, and fear of having to reinvent a life without them.

“No one teaches you what to do,

When a good man hurts you,

And you know you hurt him too….

All you want from me now is the green light of forgiveness,

You haven’t met the new me yet,

And I think she’ll give you that,”

Happiness, Taylor Swift, Track 7

Happiness is how you feel on a sleepless winter’s night, plagued by the thought of discovering who you truly are. It’s not a reflection of the artist’s own relationship, but an internal impression in which many people can relate.

Through more fan favourites like dorothea (thought to be about Selena Gomez), cowboy like me, and long story short, we finally arrive at the titular track of evermore.

Featuring the haunting vocals of Bon Iver, evermore explores the feeling of never escaping the hurt that consumes you after a relationship comes to an end.

“And I couldn’t be sure,

I had a feeling so peculiar,

That this pain would be for,


Evermore, Taylor Swift, Track 15

With the almost manic layering of lyrics between the duo towards the end of the song, a sense of harmonious stream of consciousness plays into the story, replaying the thoughts inside the protagonist’s mind.

So far, we have learnt that there was lust, envy, rage and devastation, but do we move on? Or are we stuck in the past, unable to accept our fate?

Feeling like a kid playing a ‘make your own adventure’ story, the deluxe version of this album provides the audience with two options – move on, or stay forever.

Right where you left outlines the crushing weight of being abandoned, unable to get up and move on. The powerful bridge in this song creates a feeling of panic building up to desperation.

“But if you ever think you got it wrong,

I’m right where you left me.

You left me no, oh, you left me no,

You left me no choice but to stay here forever,”

Right Where You Left Me, Taylor Swift, Bonus Track 16

Alternatively, listeners have the option of accepting that it’s over in time to go. Whether it be from a relationship, career or friendship, this final track provides the courage needed to let go from a tough situation.

“Sometimes giving up is the strong thing,

Sometimes to run is the brave thing.

Sometimes walking out is the one thing,

That will find you the right thing,”

Time to Go, Taylor Swift, Bonus Track 17

Whether these situations are real to Taylor, or just fabrications of stories she knows, I have never felt so seen by an album.  

Taylor Swift is one of the most decorated female singers of all time. Her previously younger audiences may have created an image of immaturity surrounding her. However, this album breaks through those walls and shows the strength in her artistry,

Evermore is a masterpiece that not only shares a story, but allows the listener to decide for themselves how it should end.

The pain, desperation, and feelings of regret that plague this album, create a sincerity in creating room to grow.