The story within Taylor Swift’s Folklore

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Photo by Esmé Warmuth

Taylor Swift’s latest album, Folklore came out this past summer to postive reviews.

During quarantine, people found themselves relying on the entertainment industry more than ever before. Excitement swept households around the world when Taylor Swift revealed that she would be releasing a new album called ‘Folklore.’ In the past, the buildup to Swift’s albums has been a long process with lots of hints and teaser trailers, but this time, she announced the album with almost no warning.

A statement she released on Instagram read, “Surprise! Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into… Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.”

The album has sixteen songs, with vastly different feelings and subjects. What ties them all together is Taylor’s beautiful piano and guitar instrumentation. The music is incredibly well constructed with the use of a variety of non-conventional instruments like harmonica, maracas, and bongos tying together the vocals. Taylor Swift uses understated low notes to carry out her poetic lyrics.

As impressive as the music is, what stands out is how beautiful and thoughtful the lyrics are. The songs are a departure from Swift’s usual lovesick ballads and show beautifully constructed short stories set to music.

Taylor Swift mentioned in an interview that, “There’s a collection of 3 songs I refer to as The Teenage Love Triangle. These 3 songs explore a love triangle from all 3 people’s perspectives at different times in their lives.”

These three songs are assumed to be ‘August,’ ‘Cardigan,’ and ‘Betty.’ The story is of a character named James cheating on his (or her, no pronouns are used in the songs) girlfriend Betty with a character named Inez. ‘Betty’ is from James’ perspective as he sings that, The worst thing that I ever did was what I did to (Betty). In August, Inez sings, you were never mine. And in Cardigan, Betty sings, chase two girls, lose the one.

These songs paint a beautiful story of summer love and heartbreak. The story is unresolved, the question that is posed in every song is, will Betty take James back? We don’t find out. What the listener is left with is the tumultuous feeling of betrayal and regret.

Swift’s prose are incredibly emotional, and the indie feeling of the album has created a deeply moving set of songs.