On her eight studio album, Taylor Swift leaves her twenties behind, enters her thirties, and goes indie along the way. Folklore is her most mature effort so far.
I am so glad that Taylor Swift finally matured, did a “Lana Del Rey” and stripped down all of the overproduced, glossy teen-pop elements of her previous albums, to instead emphasize on gentle storytelling and acoustic arrangements. No cheating, just pure, adorable music with Taylor Swift in the spotlight. I am completely in love with the sweeping “august”, and the harmonica in “betty” even sent me some Bob Dylan-vibes. Folklore might not include any definitive Swift-song, but it does accomplish what it seeks: to invite the listener on a trip through Taylor’s mind and heart, with her memories and dreams fearlessly exposed to anyone willing to listen.
But it is impossible not to draw comparisons to Lana’s Norman Fucking Rockwell!!, especially since both the concept and music are similar (listen to “seven”, for example); hell, the two albums ever share Jack Antonoff as a producer. This is where folklore starts to let down. While Lana’s exploration of Americana resulted in what felt like a surrealistic realm of noble arrangements and nostalgic throwbacks, Taylor keeps her feet steadily on the ground and offers a great folk-pop album, but not very much more. It is pleasing from start to finish - probably her most consistent and fully artistically realized album so far - but the main problem is that Lana proved that by stripping away glossy production and plastic pop-clichés, it is possible to achieve even more beautiful melodies, even greater arrangements, and even more mesmerizing tales. And Lana did not even have a blueprint to copy.
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