REVIEW: Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ tells emotional tales, connects listeners

(Courtesy photo)

On July 23, Taylor Swift surprised her die-hard fans — along with the rest of the world — by announcing the impromptu release of her eighth studio album, “Folklore.” The album dropped on July 24, and was generally accepted as a light in the hellfire that has been the year 2020. The album was largely made with Aaron Dessner from the National.

“Folklore” contains 16 songs and a bonus feature called “The Lakes” released on Aug. 18.

It seems that Swift took “Folklore” as an opportunity to explore a slower, indie side of herself. The singer previously known for her country and pop music made it known that she is without a genre.

The album starts off with one of the more upbeat songs of the album, “The 1.” This song hooks listeners with its catchy rhymes and pop undertones. Of all of the songs on this album, “The 1” was most reminiscent of the Taylor Swift from albums like “Lover” and “1989.”

The song “Exile” is another notable tune from the beginning of the album. It features indie folk artist Bon Iver and takes a slower, more moody approach with deep pianos in the background. The lyrics ooze with emotion and angst, particularly at the end of the song when it reaches a peak as Swift and Bon Iver go head-to-head with alternating lyrics.

A more hopeful song on the album is “Invisible String.” While it’s incredibly difficult to pick a favorite, I would classify this as my favorite song on the album. However, this is likely just the eternal optimist in me. “Invisible String” is the only song on the album with a truly hopeful tone and message of a content relationship. The song is airy and light, the general message is one of fate and gratitude for the highs and lows.

My favorite lyric from the song is, “Time, wondrous time gave me the blues and then purple-pink skies and it’s cool baby, with me / And isn’t it just so pretty to think all along there was some invisible string tying you to me.”

Another notable song from the album is “Illicit Affairs.” While the dark tale of an older man with a vulnerable woman was less easy to apply to my life, I found the story grabbing. This was possibly Swift’s most emotional song on the album. Her voice oozes pain and regret, as she sings, “That’s the thing about illicit affairs and clandestine meetings and longing stares / It’s born from just one single glance but it dies and it dies a million little times.”

A crowd favorite on the album was “Betty.” I would venture to guess that this is because “Betty” is most reminiscent of all previous versions of Swift. It has touches of country and tells the story of a high school romance gone wrong, one of Swift’s trademarks. The song features a guitar and harmonica which take the listener to the small-town setting that the lyrics speak of.

“Folklore” took fans like me on a brand new journey with Swift. A general critique of the album was its lack of upbeat songs. While the critique isn’t inaccurate, I enjoyed the slower side of Swift that hasn’t felt present since her early albums.

In this album and all of the rest, Swift’s lyrics have found a way to deeply relate to moments in my life. That’s what I find beautiful about “Folklore.” The different emotion-filled tales that Swift tells showcase love, loss, triumph, frustration and angst that I’ve felt in the specific ways she describes. There’s something incredibly connecting about listening to a lyric and realizing that your struggle is universal.

I’ve found how songs make me feel to be a fairly good metric for success. “Folklore” made me feel more in tune and connected with myself and the people around me, and for this reason I give it glowing reviews and all of my recommendations.

Anna Schmidt is the Collegian opinions editor and a junior in mass communications. She is also a student senator for the College of Arts and Sciences in the Student Governing Association. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to