How Taylor Swift Created a Lyrical Masterpiece: Evermore Full Album Retrospective

Summary notes created by Deciphr AI


In this detailed retrospective of Taylor Swift's "evermore" album, hosts Lisa and Cameron of the Swiftly Spoken podcast delve into its creation, themes, and legacy. Released as a sister album to "folklore," "evermore" was a product of Swift's continued collaboration with Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, and new partners, extending the introspective, indie-folk narrative with a winter aesthetic. The hosts discuss the album's standout tracks, including the Grammy-nominated "willow" and the country-tinged "no body, no crime" featuring HAIM. They also explore how "evermore" encapsulates themes of closure, maturity, and personal reflection, noting its critical acclaim and chart success despite being Swift's second surprise release of 2020. The episode highlights the diverse radio appeal of singles across pop, country, and alternative stations, as well as Swift's literary references, which deepen the album's storytelling.

Summary Notes

Introduction to "Swiftly Spoken" Podcast and "Evermore" Album Retrospective

  • Lisa and Cameron host "Swiftly Spoken," a Taylor Swift podcast focusing on her artistry.
  • The episode features a retrospective of Taylor Swift's ninth studio album, "Evermore."
  • Discussion includes the creation, standout themes, lyrical moments, and the album's legacy.
  • "Evermore" was released five months after "Folklore," on December 11, 2020, to celebrate Taylor turning 31.
  • It was Taylor's second surprise album of 2020, with a similar rollout to "Folklore."
  • "Evermore" is branded as "Folklore's" sister album, with Taylor continuing the collaboration with Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, and new collaborators.
  • Taylor usually views albums as one-off eras but felt "Folklore" was different and wanted to expand upon it.

"so for this very first album retrospective we're going to be going over all of the intricate details of taylor's ninth studio album evermore we're going to be discussing its creations its standout themes uh lyrical moments that we love and the legacy which is quite relevant right now following its recent album of the year nomination"

This quote outlines the podcast episode's purpose, which is to delve into the details of "Evermore," including its creation, themes, and legacy, particularly in light of its Album of the Year nomination.

"Evermore" as a Sister Album to "Folklore"

  • "Evermore" is considered a sister album to "Folklore," with Taylor Swift choosing to delve deeper into the musical style rather than moving on to a new era.
  • Taylor describes the process as choosing to wander deeper into the forest of music rather than turning back.
  • The hosts, Lisa and Cameron, discuss their appreciation for the decision to explore the same era further.
  • They note the distinct differences between "Evermore" and "Folklore," despite their connection.
  • The idea of a sister album had been speculated during the pre-"Lover" era but materialized with "Evermore."

"it was taylor's second surprise album dropped in 2020 and it's roll out and release kind of mimic that folklore with the kind of instagram announcement and the with the layout of the album across multiple different um pictures on taylor's feed"

This quote explains the similar release strategy of "Evermore" to "Folklore," both being surprise albums with coordinated social media announcements.

Production and Collaboration on "Evermore"

  • "Evermore" was produced by Aaron Dessner, with one track produced by his twin brother Bryce, except for "Gold Rush," which was produced by Jack Antonoff.
  • "Gold Rush" stands out due to Jack's production and is described as an ode to the song "August" from "Folklore."
  • Taylor and Jack's collaborative history is praised for creating exceptional songs.
  • Aaron mentioned that "Evermore" songs were wilder and freer, with darker hues and strange time signatures, indicating a more experimental approach.

"so the tracks on evermore were all produced by aaron with taylor and one with his twin brother bryce except for gold rush which was produced by jack"

This quote details the production credits on "Evermore," highlighting the primary role of Aaron Dessner and the exception of "Gold Rush," which was produced by Jack Antonoff.

"Gold Rush" Analysis

  • "Gold Rush" is discussed for its distinct production and lyrical content.
  • Taylor describes the song as a daydream that unfolds over the course of a few minutes.
  • The hosts compare "Gold Rush" to other Taylor Swift songs that describe an entire love affair in a momentary glance.
  • The song's title metaphorically refers to a person everyone desires and the conflicting feelings of wanting their attention but disliking the competition.

"gold rush is a really really lovely song taylor describes it as something like this whole daydream that takes really is a second but is described in this like three or four minute song"

This quote summarizes the concept of "Gold Rush" as a song that captures a fleeting daydream in a detailed narrative.

"Evermore" Overlooked?

  • Some believe "Evermore" is overlooked due to its similarity to "Folklore."
  • Others view it as a promotional tool for "Folklore" rather than a standalone project.
  • The hosts argue that "Evermore" has its own identity and is not merely "Folklore 2.0."
  • The album is seen as more experimental and free, a continuation of the exploration started with "Folklore."

"okay. so next we'll discuss why some people think that evermore is often overlooked and most of the time this is due to its similarity to folklore"

This quote introduces the discussion on why "Evermore" might be overlooked, attributing it to perceived similarities with "Folklore."

Songwriting and Production Chronology

  • The chronology of songwriting and production for "Evermore" is discussed, with details mostly provided by Aaron Dessner.
  • "Dorothea" and "Closure" were among the first tracks written, originally for Aaron's band Big Red Machine.
  • "Closure" is noted for its experimental nature and strange time signature.
  • "Willow" was created as a celebration of "Folklore's" release and named "Westerly" by Aaron.

"the first song that really we can assume was written and recorded was dorothea july 2020 as can be seen by aaron's instagram post where he posted a picture of a draft of all of these songs that he had made with his band big red machine which was supposedly for one of his future albums with them"

This quote provides insight into the early stages of "Evermore's" songwriting process, indicating that "Dorothea" was one of the first songs written.

Taylor Swift's Creative Process

  • Taylor Swift's Rhode Island house inspired a track sent to her by a collaborator.
  • She responds with fully formed songs, showing her swift and intuitive songwriting process.
  • "Willow" described as being about intrigue, desire, and complexity of wanting someone.
  • Swift likens "Willow" to casting a spell to make someone fall in love.

"And then she comes back with these kind of fully formed songs describes it as it being about intrigue desire and the complexity of wanting someone and in that sense it's very similar to gold rush how we've described it previously."

This quote highlights Swift's ability to receive musical tracks and quickly return them as complete songs, showcasing her talent in songwriting and her thematic focus on complex emotions.

Strategic Song Placement

  • "Willow" was chosen as the opening track of the "Evermore" album.
  • The choice reflects both a strategic decision for streaming numbers and an artistic fit for the album's opening.
  • Taylor Swift's intelligence in business and song placement is noted.
  • Fans speculate that track placement strategies are influenced by streaming patterns observed from the "Folklore" album.

"So I kind of think there was a bit of um an overlap between the two things coming together pretty well."

This quote emphasizes the dual reasoning behind the placement of "Willow" as the first track: it serves both a strategic purpose for streaming success and as a fitting introduction to the album's sound and theme.

"Willow" Remixes and Versions

  • Multiple versions of "Willow" were released, including remixes and special videos.
  • The Grammy performance version of "Willow" is particularly praised for its enhanced musical arrangement and Swift's vocal performance.
  • Remixes are seen as a tool to boost streaming but may not always align with listener preferences for the album's acoustic sound.
  • The Grammy version stands out as a favorite for its potential impact and emotional resonance.

"I love how her voice is enhanced in it and if someday we could get a full version of that I would be so so happy."

This quote reflects the appreciation for the Grammy performance version of "Willow," highlighting the enhanced vocals and the desire for a full version to be released.

The Creation of "Evermore"

  • Aaron Dessner realized they were making another record after completing several songs.
  • "Tolerate It" was sent as a piano track by Aaron, which Taylor transformed into a powerful song.
  • The track placement of "Tolerate It" as track five is significant within the Taylor Swift fandom.
  • The songwriting process is described as emotional and touching, with Aaron Dessner being moved to tears by Swift's lyrics.

"Aaron said that he actually cried when he heard the first time uh because of how like beautiful and how amazing these lyrics were."

This quote conveys the emotional impact of Taylor Swift's songwriting on her collaborators, illustrating the depth and beauty of her lyrics in "Tolerate It."

Track Five Significance

  • "Tolerate It" is discussed in the context of its placement as track five on the album.
  • Track five is traditionally important in Taylor Swift's discography, often featuring emotionally intense songs.
  • The discussion includes personal preferences for which song should be track five, with "Champagne Problems" and "Happiness" mentioned as alternatives.
  • The placement of track five is seen as a difficult decision due to the weight and importance given to it by fans and Swift herself.

"So my theory on why tolerate it was eventually placed as the track five instead of other songs has a lot to do with how personal it might have been to Taylor."

This quote suggests that the personal nature of "Tolerate It" may have influenced its placement as track five, reflecting the emotional significance of this position in Swift's albums.

Reflections on "Evermore" and "Folklore"

  • "Evermore" continues the themes of escapism and fictional storytelling from "Folklore."
  • Taylor Swift describes "Evermore" as dealing with endings and closure, in contrast to "Folklore's" focus on conflict and resolution.
  • The albums are considered sister works, similar yet distinct, with "Evermore" offering a more reflective and hopeful perspective on loss and endings.

"And I think that that's kind of how evermore is is it is of sort of finishing the ending whereas folklore kind of discussed how it was an in the moment kind of thing."

This quote captures the thematic differences between "Evermore" and "Folklore," with "Evermore" providing a sense of closure and reflection on past events, compared to the immediate emotional experiences depicted in "Folklore."

"Tis the Damn Season" and "Dorothea"

  • "Tis the Damn Season" is praised for its holiday imagery and nostalgic yet conflicted feelings towards one's hometown.
  • The song is believed to be connected to "Dorothea," with one song representing the perspective of someone who left town and the other from someone who stayed.
  • The connection between the songs is debated, with some seeing them as separate narratives and others finding thematic links.

"Tis the Damn Season is supposed to be one perspective of the person who has gone off to LA and tried to become famous in some shape way or form and then has returned back to her old town."

This quote describes the narrative perspective within "Tis the Damn Season," highlighting the song's exploration of returning to one's roots and the complex emotions that accompany it.

Conclusion of "Evermore"

  • "It's Time to Go" is discussed as the perfect closing track for the album, dealing with moving on from loss.
  • The song is seen as a metaphor for Swift's transition into re-recording her masters, signifying an end and a new beginning.
  • The album's deluxe tracks, including "Right Where You Left Me," complement the theme of closure and moving forward.

"But I'm going to turn around and continue and walk on into the future into the re-recording era."

This quote reflects the sentiment of moving past hardships and embracing a new chapter, which is thematically present in "It's Time to Go" and resonates with Taylor Swift's personal journey as an artist.

Re-recording Era and Song Placement

  • Lisa discusses the transition from the "folklore evermore era" to the "re-recorded era."
  • The song "it's time to go" is seen as a perfect end to the previous era and a beginning to the new era.
  • The placement of the song is described as "brilliantly placed."
  • Lisa draws a parallel between the deluxe version songs "right where you left me" and "it's time to go," noting a contrast in their lyrics.

"and then it's time to go is like this amazing ending and this at the same time opening up like you said to the re-recording era I thought it was brilliantly placed."

The quote emphasizes the strategic placement of the song "it's time to go" as both a conclusion to one musical era and an introduction to another.

"we have right where you left me where she kind of says that have you ever heard about the girl that got frozen time went on for everyone except for her. and then we have it's time to go where she says he's got my past frozen behind glass. but I've got me."

Lisa highlights the contrasting themes of being stuck in the past versus moving forward, as presented in the two songs.

Theme of Nature in Folklore and Evermore

  • Cameron discusses the prevalent theme of nature in both albums, "folklore" and "evermore."
  • "folklore" is characterized by a spring/summer feel, while "evermore" is described as having a fall/winter feel.
  • Taylor Swift's use of seasonal elements like sleigh bells and specific lyrics creates a cohesive sound.
  • Cameron mentions that "evermore" feels like a winter album without being explicitly about Christmas.

"another one of the most important things that run both throughout folklore and evermore is the theme of nature."

Cameron introduces the theme of nature as a significant element in both albums.

"so of course we have all of these references to water uh different trees uh the forest but also in general folklore seems to have more of this spring summer feel to it and as taylor described she decided to make evermore have more of a full or wintry feel to it."

The quote explains how nature is woven into the music and how the seasons influence the tone of each album.

Metaphor and Lyricism in Ivy

  • Lisa expresses her admiration for the song "ivy," especially its metaphorical use of nature.
  • Cameron agrees, praising the song's visual imagery and metaphorical depth.
  • Both speakers appreciate the lyric changes between the explicit and clean versions of "ivy," noting how small changes can add depth and intensity to a song.

"i really do like ivy again it's kind of a standout track for me um with kind of gold rush and. champagne problems. i just really really love ivy and kind of love the change up in the kind of bridge as such i think it's perfect."

Lisa expresses her fondness for "ivy," particularly enjoying the bridge section of the song.

"so i'll read them out so she says it's a fire it's a violent blaze in the dark and you started it it's a war it's the fiercest fight of my life and you started it i love them."

Cameron reads out the lyric changes in the clean version of "ivy," highlighting the impact of the altered words.

Literary References in Evermore

  • Taylor Swift's use of literary references in "evermore" is discussed, highlighting her well-read background.
  • References to Emily Dickinson, Miller Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lewis Carroll, Daphne du Maurier, and Robert Frost are noted.
  • These references add depth to the songs and show Swift's ability to incorporate classical literature into her work.

"another thing that runs into evermore and that also runs through folklore is references to novels and literature in general."

Cameron introduces the theme of literary references present in both "folklore" and "evermore."

"so we have quite a few on evermore to go through them we have this more than a specific reference is just a general reference to evermore being announced on the 10th of december which is emily dickinson's birthday."

The quote points out the significance of the album release date coinciding with Emily Dickinson's birthday, suggesting a deliberate literary nod.

Marriage and Breakdown Themes in Evermore

  • The songs "champagne problems," "happiness," and "coney island" are analyzed for their themes of marriage and its breakdown.
  • Lisa and Cameron discuss the vivid imagery and storytelling in "champagne problems."
  • "happiness" is praised for its maturity and reflective perspective on the end of a relationship.
  • "coney island" is recognized for its somber reflection on a long-term relationship amidst a desolate backdrop.

"so the next kind of theme of evermore is marriage and most specifically the breakdown of them."

Lisa introduces the theme of marriage and its breakdown as a central topic in the album "evermore."

"it explores so many things within it obviously um a rejected marriage proposal but also like mental health."

The quote by Cameron elaborates on the depth of "champagne problems," mentioning its exploration of complex issues like mental health and rejected proposals.

Personal Songs on Evermore

  • "long story short" and "marjorie" are identified as more personal songs on the album.
  • "long story short" is seen as a reflection on Taylor Swift's past, particularly between the "1989" and "reputation" era.
  • "marjorie" is a tribute to Swift's grandmother, featuring her opera singing within the song.
  • These songs show Swift's ability to incorporate personal elements and emotions into her music.

"as we near the second half to the end of the album i definitely think taylor added some more personal uh songs."

Cameron remarks on the personal nature of the songs towards the end of the album, highlighting their introspective qualities.

"to have taylor's grandmother's old opera singing featured in the song it's such a beautiful detail."

Lisa comments on the inclusion of Swift's grandmother's opera singing in "marjorie," appreciating the personal touch it adds to the song.

Collaborators on Evermore

  • The collaborative nature of "evermore" is emphasized, with Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff being the main producers.
  • The album features a mix of returning collaborators from "folklore" and new contributors.
  • The collaborative process is seen as expanding the "folklorean family" and contributing to the album's diverse sound.

"moving on to the collaborators that taylor worked with on evermore it is a very collaborative album much more than folklore in a sense uh because they opened up the family the folklorean family and new people got involved."

Lisa discusses the collaborative aspect of "evermore," noting the expansion of the creative team compared to "folklore."

"but of course we have aaron and jack being the main producers as we discussed aaron being on every track except for gold rush."

Cameron highlights the key roles of Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff in the production of "evermore," with Dessner's extensive involvement in the album.

Justin Vernon's Involvement in "Evermore"

  • Justin Vernon, known as Bon Iver, was significantly involved in the production of Taylor Swift's album "Evermore".
  • He contributed vocals, played drums on "Cowboy Like Me" and "Closure", and played guitar and banjo on "Ivy".
  • Vernon also processed Taylor's vocals through the Messina for the song "Closure".
  • His involvement was a step up from the previous album "Folklore", which Taylor was already excited about.

"Justin Vernon who is Bon Iver there of course. And he really got so much more involved in this album and Taylor was very excited for him to be on Folklore at all. So I can only but imagine how overwhelmed and overjoyed she must have been when he was even more involved in Evermore."

This quote underscores Justin Vernon's increased contribution to Taylor Swift's album "Evermore" compared to "Folklore", highlighting his multi-instrumental talent and the processing of Taylor's vocals, which likely added a unique texture to the songs.

Taylor and Bon Iver Collaboration

  • The collaboration between Taylor Swift and Bon Iver on the title track "Evermore" is discussed.
  • "Evermore" is praised for its closure, shift in tone when Justin Vernon sings, and the encapsulation of the album's feeling.
  • The song is appreciated for being the title track and for its contrast with "Folklore", which did not have a titular song.

"I really do love the song Evermore. I think it's a really kind of gorgeous song and it's really nice that we got a song that was the title of the album because obviously with Folklore there was not a song called Folklore."

The quote expresses appreciation for the song "Evermore" as the title track, noting its beauty and the significance of having a song that shares the album's title, which was not the case with "Folklore".

William Bowery's Contributions

  • William Bowery (Joe Alwyn) played piano on the song "Evermore" and co-wrote "Evermore", "Coney Island", and "Champagne Problems".
  • Bowery's songwriting often includes a dual perspective, providing both a male and female viewpoint within the songs.
  • Despite not being a professional songwriter, Bowery's contributions are highly regarded for their quality.

"William Bowery or as we know now it's Joe. So he actually played the piano for Evermore which is amazing and he wrote two other songs with Taylor."

This quote highlights the significant contributions of Joe Alwyn, known as William Bowery, in songwriting and playing piano for the album "Evermore", emphasizing his talent in these areas.

Collaborations with Other Artists

  • Taylor Swift worked with The National on "Coney Island" and with HAIM on "No Body, No Crime".
  • "No Body, No Crime" explores true crime tropes and is appreciated for its murder mystery elements and storytelling.
  • Marcus Mumford provided backing vocals on "Cowboy Like Me", and his feature status is discussed.
  • The song "Cowboy Like Me" is a favorite, praised for its lyrics, metaphors, and themes.

"Other collaborators that Taylor worked with were The National on Coney Island and then Haim with No Body, No Crime which is a song that we haven't really got to yet."

This quote introduces the collaborations with other artists on "Evermore", specifically mentioning The National and HAIM, indicating the variety of musical influences and partnerships on the album.

Evermore's Visual and Storytelling Aspects

  • "Evermore" is described as a visual album with rich storytelling.
  • Lyrics from "Cowboy Like Me" are highlighted for their depth and imagery.
  • The metaphor of "forever is the sweetest con" is discussed, and Taylor's songwriting is praised for its simplicity and depth.

"Forever is the sweetest con. And I think what's really sweet is Taylor wrote Marcus Mumford a kind of little note that said forever is the sweetest con."

This quote reflects on the poetic nature of Taylor Swift's lyrics, particularly in "Cowboy Like Me", and mentions a personal note she wrote to Marcus Mumford, highlighting her appreciation for his contribution to the song.

Evermore's Records and Achievements

  • "Evermore" received widespread critical acclaim and was featured on several end-of-year lists.
  • The album showcased a variety of sounds, with different songs being sent to different radio formats.
  • "Evermore" achieved high chart positions, broke sales records, and won awards.
  • Taylor Swift was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys with "Evermore".

"Evermore has won an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album and also won an ARIA Award when Taylor won for Best International Artist."

This quote lists some of the awards and accolades "Evermore" received, illustrating the album's success and recognition within the music industry.

Personal Reflections on Evermore

  • The speakers share their personal favorite songs from "Evermore".
  • They express gratitude for the album and its impact on them.
  • The discussion concludes with anticipation for upcoming episodes related to Taylor Swift and her work.

"I definitely think Champagne Problems, Cowboy Like Me, Gold Rush, Ivy, and probably I Right Where You Left Me. I really love the feeling on I Right Where You Left Me."

This quote reveals the speaker's personal favorite tracks from "Evermore", giving insight into the individual impact of specific songs from the album.

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