Back in April, Taylor Swift officially postponed the few dates she had set aside to perform her "Lover" album live. Lover Fest contained only four dates in the U.S. -- two in California and two in Massachusetts. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I haven’t missed a Swift show since 2012 and her album "Red." While devastating, it was, of course, the right decision as COVID-19 spread like wildfire around the world. While the shows weren’t outright canceled, the understanding was that everything was indefinitely paused.
With only quarantine laid out in front of me and nothing left to look forward to, one of the songs off "Lover," "Cruel Summer," became a sort of anthem for me and a lot of other Swifties, surely. Naturally, the lyrics detail a love story gone wrong, as is Swift's way, but man, has this been a cruel summer indeed.
But then Taylor said we could have a brand new album, as a treat.
This morning, Swift announced that she’d be dropping a 16-track (17, with a bonus song) surprise album called "folklore" at midnight (likely ET) tonight. Just like that, her Instagram feed was decked out in a new, black and white, dreamy, rustic aesthetic, the track list was out and we even got word of a music video, written and directed by Swift herself, that’ll premiere along with the album.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We ain’t worthy!
We know very little about this album, of course. Past records had a build-up, a lead-in stacked with a few singles so you could get a feel for the vibe of the music. This time, though, all we have is what Taylor’s described. She wrote that she made this entire album while isolating once the pandemic struck and filled it with her “whims, dreams, fears and musings.”
Just from a quick glance, though, I’m seeing a matured sense of self on this album. Swift has always grown along with her music -- most songs off "Fearless," for example, are about unrequited teenage love, while tracks from "reputation" are about having lived and learned and being true to yourself. The song titles from "folklore" themselves hold an air of sophistication and dignity. The titles off "Lover" displayed a cutesy, almost whimsical essence, whereas "folklore" already feels like it’s going to be a little more serious and down to earth.
Of course, those feelings come from the colors and tone that Swift has already switched to. It’s natural, simple, almost provincial -- it’s cottagecore, as the youths would say -- and makes you think that Taylor’s getting ready to spill some deep introspections on not just her life, but the world around her.
Oh, but am I finished with the bubblegum pink, sparkles and rainbows from her "Lover" aesthetic? Hardly. Here’s hoping that Lover Fest will go on as planned, and then we can switch to this new look. We’ll keep the new songs, though.
Also of note? Hilariously questionable timing, as usual. The world has been raving about One Direction this week, as today marks the English boy band’s 10-year anniversary. And, if you recall, Swift used to date leading man Harry Styles. She landed a single or two based on their break-up, of course (so did he, we hear), so I can’t help but giggle about how she announced a surprise album on his former band’s big day.
(Not that Harry cares. That guy’s doing just fine on his own, and he has my heart as much as Ms. Swift does.)
"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," Swift wrote. "My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with."
Uncertainty has kind of been the theme of everything these past six months, but we’re plenty certain that a new Taylor Swift album is the perfect kind of antidote.