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|Studio album by|
|Released||December 11, 2020|
|Taylor Swift chronology|
|Singles from Evermore|
Evermore (stylized in all lowercase) is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records, less than five months after Swift's eighth studio album, Folklore (2020). Evermore is a "sister record" to its predecessor, both being surprise albums announced hours before release.
As a result of Swift continuing to work with her Folklore producers Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, and Bryce Dessner, Evermore is an alternative rock and chamber rock album that expands on its predecessor's indie/folk sound. Its lyrical themes generally revolve around love, marriage, infidelity, and noir, detailed in form of impressionist storytelling and interlacing narratives. The album features guest appearances from American bands Bon Iver, Haim, and the National. Its lead single, "Willow", premiered with a self-directed music video alongside the album's launch. Upon release, Evermore was met with universal acclaim from music critics, who praised its character dynamics and experimental production, with many dubbing it a contrasting companion to Folklore.
On July 24, 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Swift surprise-released her eighth studio album, Folklore, to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. It became the best-selling album of 2020, and garnered five nominations at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. On November 25, 2020, a documentary concert film titled Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, detailing the creative process behind Folklore with a performances of its songs, was released on Disney+. On December 10, 2020, two days before her thirty-first birthday, Swift uploaded nine photos on Instagram, which together formed a grid image of the singer's back. In another immediate post across all her social media accounts, she announced that her ninth studio album, titled Evermore, will be released at midnight. She revealed the track-list, which contained features from Haim, the National, and Bon Iver, and added that a music video for its opening track, "Willow", will premiere on YouTube, alongside the album's release.
To put it plainly, we just couldn't stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in ... I've never done this before. In the past I've always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with Folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales. I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them.
Referring to lockdown regulations through in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Swift wrote: "You've all been so caring, supportive and thoughtful on my birthdays and so this time I thought I would give you something! I also know this holiday season will be a lonely one for most of us and if there are any of you out there who turn to music to cope with missing loved ones the way I do, this is for you". Prior to the premiere of the "Willow" music video, Swift likened Evermore to fall and winter, in contrast to its predecessor's spring and summer.
Inspite of releasing Folklore, Swift continued to work remotely with her producer Aaron Dessner, who would send her his instrumental tracks, to which she would write the lyrics. Spontaneously, these sessions resulted in an album that was an extension of Folklore. Dessner produced 16 of the physical album's tracks, while Jack Antonoff produced "Gold Rush". Much of the album was recorded during the making of Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Swift's 2020 Disney+ concert film. In comparison to Folklore, the production of Evermore was a more experimental process, where Swift and Dessner did not subject themselves to any limitations, sonically. Alike its predecessor, Evermore was recorded in secrecy.
Swift wrote "Willow" in an hour, over an instrumental titled "Westerly", which Dessner named after the location of her Rhode Island home. "Closure" and "Dorothea" were initally written by Swift for Big Red Machine, Dessner's band with Justin Vernon, but ended up being on Evermore. Swift wrote the title track "Evermore" with Joe Alwyn (credited under the pseudonym William Bowery) and then it was sent it to the frontman of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, who added the bridge. Dessner realized that they were creating a sister album only after the duo wrote more than seven songs. Dessner composed "Tolerate It" on a piano in 10
8 time signature, and sent it to Swift, who conjured a scene in her mind upon hearing the track, and sent back the track with finished lyrics. Dessner stated that he "cried when [he] first heard" the song's lyrics.
Swift traveled to Dessner's home in upstate New York to Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions at his studio. Once filming was complete, Swift stayed to record at Long Pond with Dessner. She wrote "'Tis the Damn Season" overnight while filming, and sang the song to Dessner in his kitchen. Dessner cited "'Tis the Damn Season" as one of his favorite works ever, and that it could have just remained as instrumental music, but instead, Swift's "incredible storytelling ability and musical ability took it and made something much great". "No Body, No Crime" was solely written by Swift on a rubber-bridge guitar Dessner got for her. She mailed him a voice memo of the song, after which he developing it. Swift had specific ideas on how she wanted the song to feel, including that she wants Haim to be featured on it. The Haim sisters recored the song with engineer Ariel Reichshaid in Los Angeles, and forwarded it to Swift, who was at the Long Pond studio. The harmonica and guitar riffs on the song were played by Josh Kaufman, who also played the harmonica on "Betty" from Folklore. JT Bates played the drums on "No Body, No Crime", who also contributed the drums on "Dorothea".
Dessner and his brother, Bryce Dessner, sent Swift some of the instrumentals they made for their band the National. One of those was what would become "Coney Island", which initially had all the music except the drums. Swift and Alwyn wrote its lyrics, and the former recorded it with only her vocals. After listening to the song's demo, the Dessner brothers observed that it feels very related to the National, and envisioned Matt Berninger (lead vocalist of the National) singing it, and Bryan Devendorf (drummer of the National) playing its drums. Aaron Dessner informed Berninger, who was "excited" for the idea. The band assembled, Devendorf played the drums, while his brother Scott Devendorf played the bass and pocket piano; Bryce Dessner helped produce the song.
"Marjorie" was an instrumental precursor to "Peace", the fifteenth track on Folklore. The latter's drone is present in the former's bridge. The backing rhythm of "Marjorie" was composed from an "Allovers Hi-Hat Generator", a software developed by Minnesotan producer Ryan Olson, which has been used in many songs by Big Red Machine. The instrument takes any sound and splits them into samples, and regenerates them in randomized musical patterns. Dessner went through the patterns, picked his favorite parts, looped them, developed it into an instrumental, and sent it to Swift wrote "Marjorie" to it. "Right Where You Left Me" and "Happiness" were written days before Evermore was finished. Dessner had been working on the composition of "Happiness" since 2019, thinking it would be a song for Big Red Machine; however, Swift admired its instrumentals and ended up finishing its lyrics. "Right Where You Left Me" was for Big Red Machine as well, before Swift heard it and wrote lyrics to it. In a 2020 Rolling Stone interview, Dessner stated that the last songs Swift writes for an album are usually the most significant songs: "that is a little bit how [Swift] works—she writes a lot of songs, and then at the very end she sometimes writes one or two more, and they often are important ones".
Vernon was profoundly involved in Evermore more than the Folklore. He played the drums on "Cowboy Like Me" and "Closure", guitar and banjo on "Ivy", and contributed backing vocals in "Marjorie". For "Closure", he processed Swift's vocals through his Messina vocal modifier, which distorts her soft timbre into a robotic growl. Most of Swift's vocals on Evermore were recorded at Long Pond. Dessner added sleigh bells on "Ivy" to invoke winter-oriented emotions, coinciding with the song's wintry imagery. He intentionally added "a wintry nostalgia" to most of the music in Evermore, leaning towards the idea that the album manifests fall and winter, as Swift told him about how Folklore feels like spring and summer to her, while Evermore is fall and winter. Dessner opined that mixing the album's 17 songs was a "Herculean task" and that the sound engineer Jon Low thought that they would not finish the album on time.
Evermore has been described as a sequel, side B, second chapter, or companion record to Folklore. The digital edition of Evermore is one hour long, consisting of 15 tracks, while the physical edition adds two bonus songs, "Right Where You Left Me" and "It's Time To Go", which are yet to be released. The album features guest appearances from three American bands—Haim, the National and Bon Iver on "No Body, No Crime", "Coney Island", and "Evermore", respectively—and background vocals from Marcus Mumford on "Cowboy like Me". Evermore was written and produced by Swift, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner and Antonoff, with additional production credits to BJ Burton and James McAlister on "Closure", and additional writing credits to William Bowery on "Champagne Problems", "Coney Island" and "Evermore", and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on "Evermore".
Evermore is an alternative rock, chamber rock and folk-pop album that expands on its predecessor's minimal, indie-folk and chamber pop sounds; however, Evermore is looser and more experimental in its sonic cadences. The album is characterized by its acoustic core and wintry mood, comprising spare arrangements, slow-burning melodies, burbling, fingerpicked acoustic guitars, swaying electric guitars, smooth and somber pianos, warm and woozy synthesizers, mandolin, throbbing drum machines, lush strings, subtle layers of Mellotrons, flutes, French horns, cellos, Swift's mellifluous vocals, and gauzy backing vocals drenched in a misty atmosphere.
In tracks like "Gold Rush" and "Long Story Short", the album occasionally employs pop beats and hooks. The Daily Telegraph observed that Evermore carries no sense of tempo or urgency, departing from the stadium-suited tempos of Swift's earlier works. In Tom Hull's opinion, while Swift remains attentive to "production details", Evermore follows Folklore in abandoning "pop glitz" in favor of "straightforward songcraft" due in part to the pandemic shifting "her focus from arenas to your living room. Or sometimes bedroom". Stereogum described it as "a soft, meditative, consciously quiet" album of "restorative old-school singer-songwriter music".
As an extension of its predecessor, Evermore is an intimate album heavily rooted in detailed storytelling from third-person perspectives and character studies. It ventures deeper inside the world Swift imagined with Folklore, which blends facts and fiction. Both albums share a common escapist theme, but unlike the more introspective, romantic nature of Folklore, Evermore is free, bold, uninhibited, playful, impressionist, and confessional in tone, delving extensively into Swift's ideas of adult love and pain. The songs generally ruminate themes of forbidden love, romantic neglect, grudging forgiveness, noir, marriage, and infidelity, revolving around a diverse set of characters that (like those in Folklore) interconnect throughout the album's tracks, such as captivating narrators, scorned friends, complicated women, and embattled couples.
Swift's trademark turns of phrase and wordplay is also abundant in Evermore. Variety observed that "warmth amid iciness" is its recurring lyrical motif. American Songwriter opined that the record has Swift primarily highlighting "the 'unhappily ever after' anthology of marriages gone bad". Stereogum labeled the album "observational fiction". Pitchfork noted that Swift remained a versatile, expressive vocalist, and a "wordy" lyricist by mimicking the sound of "rushing, restless endorphins ... to magnify sad, small moments". Spin remarked that Swift unravels "exceedingly complex human emotions with precision and devastation" in Evermore.
Evermore opens with "Willow", a chill chamber folk love song propelled by picked guitars coupled with glockenspiel, indie-folk orchestrations, programmed drums, and a breathless chorus. "Champagne Problems" is a mournful ballad with spacious, low-fi, oompah piano chords that entwine with guitar arpeggios, and choir vocals. It depicts a difficult girlfriend whose personal struggles disrupt her romantic relationship, lead her to turn down her lover's earnest proposal and take responsibility for the heartbreak. "Gold Rush" is a shimmering pop song driven by drums, horns, violins, swiveling shifts in tempo, and a dreamy chorus. Its frenzy verses are couplets delivered in a pulsating rhythm over persistent beats, with a red herring intro and outro made of layered vocals. The song discusses the narrator's jealousy and insecurity towards an attractive subject while referencing the California Gold Rush.
The fourth track, "'Tis the Damn Season", is a Christmas song that pulls a twist on festive balladry. It sees a female narrator arrive to her hometown Tupelo for Christmas holidays, where she encounters her former lover and ends up in bed with him despite knowing the rekindled flame will not lead anywhere. The song is built around electric guitar strums, and its narrator is revealed to be a character named Dorothea, later in the album. Chronicling a young woman in an age-gap relationship, "Tolerate It" is the internal agony of the resentful protagonist looking to terminate the unbalanced relationship with her aloof partner. The slow-building song is guided by muffled notes of piano and tense synth-beats, and its lyrics are partially inspired by the main characters of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca. Opening with police sirens, the twangy and cinematic "No Body, No Crime", featuring Haim, is a country, pop rock, and country rock song. It tells a macabre story of a woman named Este murdered by her unfaithful husband in favor of his mistress; the narrator, a friend of Este's, takes revenge by murdering Este's husband.
The melancholic seventh track, "Happiness", is a post-breakup/divorce ballad with an ornate arrangement of hazy synthesizers, hi-hats, violin, bass, organs, piano and a soaring drone. It sees the narrator step into the subject's lovelorn shoes, contemplate the split, and apologize for losing track of facts, affirming that she will find happiness again, using slow and deliberate vocals. "Dorothea" is a song from the perspective of the male subject in "'Tis the Damn Season", who stays in Tupelo while their high-school lover, Dorothea, moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Hollywood. He narrates his backstories of Dorothea, such as a skipped prom and feelings of separation, and convinces the TV-famous Dorothea to return to the simplicity of rural life. The song is steered by an uptempo piano, tambourine and guitars and has been compared to "Betty" due to their similar perspectives.
"Coney Island", the tenth track, is an alternative rock, waltz and indie-folk duet with Matt Berninger of the National. The song depicts suburban nostalgia and recollects a couple's memories in Coney Island, New York City; Swift's lucid, melodious vocals counterpoint Berninger's mumbled, rough baritone. "Ivy" is a folk song that channels a married woman's infidelity, employing whimsical metaphors, ticking instrumentation of banjo, picked guitar, and trumpet, gentle harmonies from Justin Vernon, and a jaunty chorus. It documents her temptation for her secret lover and the realistic consequences that may hinder their affair. Swift sings about two con artists in "Cowboy Like Me" who fall in love while frequenting resorts, trying to impress rich beneficiaries. It is an alternative, country, folk rock, and blues tune, with hushed guitars, harmonica riff, mandolin, piano, and lap steel, backed by Mumford in the choruses. "Long Story Short" is an indie rock song with a rousing post-chorus hook, crisp beats of both live and programmed drums, explosive guitars, and strings. Swift summarizes the worst moments of her life in the song, and explains her personal redemption.
In the poignant thirteenth track "Marjorie", Swift details her grief and guilt over her grandmother and opera singer, Marjorie Finlay, who passed away when Swift was 13 years old. Its lyrics consist of Finlay's advices to her granddaughter, as well as Swift's memories and regrets, while the production samples Finlay's soprano vocals over buzzing synths, pizzicato strings, drone, pulse, cello, and a pulsing keyboard arrangement, ending with an ethereal outro. "Marjorie" parallels the thirteenth track on Folklore, "Epiphany", which honors Swift's grandfather. "Closure" is Swift's kiss-off to its subject, and their self-serving request and fake niceties, by pretending to be amicable. It is an industrial-folk song characterized by its unusual 5
4 time signature, and a distinctive, skittering production of brass, strings, electronic creaks, clattering percussions, and synthesized drums. The title track, "Evermore", is a piano ballad that progresses into a thrilling bridge where Swift is joined midway by Justin Vernon's signature falsetto in a call and response. It concludes the album on a cold and somber, but hopeful, note.
Following the lush, ghostly, woodland aesthetic of Folklore, Evermore takes upon a wintry theme, extending as a yuletide sequel of the former's cottagecore. Time stated that Folklore is a muted, autumnal palette of sounds and feelings, while Evermore is its winter companion with lingering sadness and regret. The album cover artwork of Evermore shows Swift standing in a barren winter field, facing away from the camera with her hair styled in a French braid, wearing a single-breasted, brown and orange checked flannel coat designed by Stella McCartney. McCartney revealed that the coat was a sustainable piece from her "23 Old Bond Street Limited Edition Collection"; priced at $2,875, it immediately sold out on fashion retail platform FarFetch after the album's launch.
Evermore was released on December 11, 2020, two days prior to Swift's thirty-first birthday. It is a companion record to its predecessor, Folklore, which was launched less five months prior; both of the projects are surprise albums, announced 16 hours prior to their release at midnight. Swift's fast-succeeding releases of Evermore after Folklore received comparisons to those of the Beatles, U2, Prince and David Bowie. On December 14, 2020, Swift appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
On the December 15, 2020 episode of Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show, English singer-songwriter Paul McCartney revealed that Swift originally decided to postpone the release of Evermore by one week to respect the original December 11 release date of his eighteenth studio album, McCartney III; upon learning this, McCartney decided to release his album on December 18 instead so that Swift could move forward with the rollout of Evermore as initially planned.
|The A.V. Club||A–|
|The Sydney Morning Herald|||
Evermore received widespread acclaim upon release, with many admiring its contrast with Folklore. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score out of 100 to ratings from publications, the album received an average score of 85 based on 25 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Distinguishing Swift as an unrivaled songwriter, Brodie Lancaster of The Sydney Morning Herald found Evermore traveling deeper into the singer's fictitious narratives, and praised the depth and variety of its characters. NME critic Hannah Mylrea opined that Swift pushes her indie reinvention further in Evermore, terming it a "freewheeling younger sibling" while Folklore is the "introspective, romantic older sister"; Mylrea thought Evermore is looser and more experimental, expanding on its predecessor's sonic palette. In congruence, American Songwriter designated Folklore as the "archetypal older sister—a careful, yet hopeless romantic" whereas Evermore is the "bold, scrappy younger one", with the latter being a yuletide evolution of the former's sound. Maura Johnston, writing for Entertainment Weekly, asserted that Swift "levels up" on Evermore by taking musical risks, and dubbed the sister albums as a career-high for the singer.
Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club chose Evermore over Folklore as the better album, and noted that the former continues the latter's "universe-building" with stronger songwriting and greater sonic cohesion. Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis thought Evermore continues what Folklore started—Swift's transition from mainstream pop to alternative rock, comparing it to her country-to-pop departure, and added that it proves Swift's ability to switch genres with ease. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph lauded the album's emotional songcraft, calling it heartfelt and ruminative. Patrick Ryan of USA Today gave plaudits to its mystical instrumentation and escapist lyricism, and stressed that Evermore is not a vestige of Folklore, but rather a sister that reinforces Swift's strengths. In her Rolling Stone review, Claire Shaffer saw the album embracing new genres and ambitious storytelling, and welcomed Swift's new artistic direction. The Independent writer Helen Brown deemed the songs haunting and contemplative, and likened their storytelling to a campfire setting.
Jason Lipshutz of Billboard stated that the album is a more progressive and audacious than Folklore, although posing as a sequel at first. He explained that Evermore explores the complications of adult love more extensively than its predecessor, and flaunts Swift's boldest and richest songwriting. Variety critic Chris Willman praised the album's subliminal production and Swift's agile vocals, and underlined its impressionist style of storytelling that converges only after multiple listens. Stereogum's Tom Breihan named it an expertful "full-on winter album" populated by subtle growers shrouded in a sedative atmosphere. Jon Pareles of The New York Times commended its diligent sound and poised lyrics, and noted that it contains more character studies than Folklore. In less favorable reviews, Chris Richards of The Washington Post found the album lengthy and rejected its indie categorization. Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times felt that the album is Folklore's leftovers and "simply repeats its trick", but picked "Tolerate It", "Gold Rush", "Champagne Problems", "No Body, No Crime" and "Dorothea" as highlights.
|Metacritic||Best Albums, by Year 2020||45|||
|Our Culture||The 50 Best Albums of 2020||4|||
|Rolling Stone||Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2020||5||Folklore ranked first|||
|Slate||The Music Club, 2020||2||Tied with Folklore|||
|USA Today||The 10 Best Albums of 2020||1||Tied with Folklore|||
|Variety||Chris Willman's Best Albums of 2020||1||Tied with Folklore|||
On the United States Spotify chart, all 15 tracks from Evermore appeared inside top-18, completely occupying the first seven spots; the lead single "Willow" entered at number one with 3.645 million opening-day streams, followed by "Champagne Problems" (3.248 million) and "Gold Rush" (2.978 million).
In Australia, Swift held the top spots of both albums and singles charts, simultaneously. Evermore entered at number 1 on the ARIA Albums chart, garnering her seventh chart-topping album. Achieving her second number-one album of the year 19 weeks after Folklore, she set the record for the shortest gap between two successive number-one albums. "Willow" debuted atop the ARIA Singles chart, accompanied by 11 other tracks from Evermore. It marked her seventh Australian number-one hit, and the second in 2020, following "Cardigan".
In the United Kingdom, Evermore debuted atop the Official Albums Chart, making Swift the fastest female artist to accumulate six number-one albums in the country, surpassing Madonna, and the first female artist to score six chart-toppers in the 21st-century. The album is her second number-one album in 2020 after Folklore, establishing her as the first act to score multiple chart-topping albums in a calendar year, since David Bowie in 2016. On the Official Singles Chart, "Willow" landed at number three and gave Swift her eleventh top-5 hit, while tracks "Champagne Problems" and "No Body, No Crime" arrived at numbers 15 and 19, respectively, increasing her UK top-20 hits total to 21.
In Ireland, the album opened at number three on Irish Albums Chart, marking Swift's sixth consecutive top-three album in the country; it was the most downloaded and streamed album of the week. Simultaneously, "Willow" also placed at number three on Irish Singles Chart, alongside tracks "Champagne Problems" and "No Body, No Crime" at sixth and eleventh spots, respectively, rising Swift's sum of top-50 hits to 38.
In New Zealand, Evermore launched atop the Top40 Albums chart, while its tracks "Willow", "Champagne Problems", "No Body, No Crime" and "Gold Rush" charted at numbers 3, 24, 29 and 34 on Top40 Singles chart.
On the global Spotify chart, all tracks opened inside top-28. "Willow" placed first with 7.268 million opening-day streams, one of the biggest debuts of 2020, followed by six other tracks inside the top-10.
|4.||"'Tis the Damn Season"||A. Dessner||3:49|
|5.||"Tolerate It"||A. Dessner||4:05|
|6.||"No Body, No Crime" (featuring Haim)||Swift||3:35|
|9.||"Coney Island" (featuring the National)||4:35|
|11.||"Cowboy like Me"||A. Dessner||4:35|
|12.||"Long Story Short"||A. Dessner||3:35|
|15.||"Evermore" (featuring Bon Iver)||5:04|
|16.||"Right Where You Left Me"||A. Dessner||4:07|
|17.||"It's Time to Go"||A. Dessner||4:15|
Additional instrument recording[b]
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||1|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||2|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||52|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||3|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||24|
|Irish Albums (OCC)||3|
|Italian Albums (FIMI)||26|
|Japan Hot Albums (Billboard Japan)||29|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||1|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||4|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||3|
|UK Albums (OCC)||1|
|Various||December 11, 2020||Standard||Republic|||
|United Kingdom||December 18, 2020||Deluxe||EMI|||
|Brazil||January 29, 2021||
She answered fans questions in the YouTube chat ahead of the "Willow" video release, explaining that she sees Evermore as the "fall/winter" to Folklore's "spring/summer" vibes...
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