Taylor Swift

Republic, 2020

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Taylor Swift is one of the smartest artists recording today.

Smart because she knows how to leverage her own fame sensibly. Smart because she has the foresight to ask questions (she did NOT buy into FTX, the crypto debacle that has snared everyone from Larry David to Tom Brady into lawsuits, because they couldn’t answer her questions about the product). She markets herself almost impeccably. Perhaps the most telling thing is that her net worth is over half a billion dollars.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And yet—she has some interesting musical sensibilities. While she started out in country music and then moved to pop, she is capable of multiple musical styles, somewhat of a genre chameleon. On her 2020 pandemic-era release folklore, she is rather firmly in indie balladeer mode, her tone introspective and gentle while still being incisive.

Production and engineering on folklore is very good, taking relatively simple songs and enrobing them in arrangements that manage somehow to be both spare and lush. The album is very piano-driven, and the musicianship is clean, precise, and skilled.

The CD starts off with one of those tunes that are so good it stays in your head long after you hear it, “The 1.” Other tracks worthy of note include “The Last Great American Dynasty,” a fascinating character study in song; “August”, which has an amazing melody; “Invisible String” provides a refreshing bit of strings (mandolin, I think?) in the midst of all the piano; and the sheer power and intricacy of “Mad Woman” is worth the price of the CD by itself.

There are, however, a couple of tracks that don’t work as well. I’m not fond of her duet with Bon Iver, “Exile”; it seems a bit formulaic and drags. “This Is Me Trying” has much the same issue; the musical pace is much slower than it should be.

Folklore is a complex and intricate work; it’s taken me several listens to really appraise it, and I’m still listening. But if your only exposure to Swift is “You Belong With Me,” you should really check this out. It’s a deep, introspective, and in the end rewarding listen.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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