‘Folklore’ – A New Sound and a New Side of Taylor Swift

Hannah Dotzler , Copy Editor

After ditching country music and becoming a pop starI was sure Taylor Swift had finally found her place in the music world. But, at the end of July, Swift released her album Folklore, with a sound and theme unlike anything she had done before.  

Swift’s unexpected album release came as a surprise to many, including myself. With no prior warnings, promotions, or posts, Swift announced on her social media accounts on July 23 that she would be releasing a new album that very night.  

So, why was there no warning? Well, aside from Swift just wanting to surprise her fans, there really was not much time for her to promote the album, as she released it shortly after she finished making it. Swift wrote and recorded the entire album while in isolation during the current pandemic. In her Instagram post announcing the album, Swift said: 

“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.” 

I’m a life-long Taylor Swift fan, so of course, I was ecstatic when I heard the news of this album. I had high hopes and expectations, as I always do when she comes out with new music. And, as always, Swift did not disappoint.  

When I first listened to Folklore all the way through, though, I had mixed reactions. First, I felt confused. I was expecting a pop album like her previous three – 1989, Reputation, and Lover. Although those albums do have different tones and sound to them, they also have several underlying similarities. However, I was surprised and confused when Folklore just did not quite seem to fit in with them. It didn’t give me the same “pop” vibe her other albums had. Even the lyrics seemed to be written a little differently 

In fact, there was a reason Folklore didn’t sound like Swift’s other pop albums – because it was not even a part of the pop genre! iTunes categorized the album as ‘alternative,’ while other sources, including The New York Times, considered it an ‘indie’ album. would have never imagined Swift releasing an album in either of those genres. But she did it, and she did it well. 

After listening to Folklore several times and accepting the fact that it was not another pop album, I decided I really like and appreciate it. My favorite thing about the album is the lyrics and the stories they tell.  

Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘folklore’ as “the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community passed through the generations by word of mouth.” I think this title fits the album perfectly because it really is filled with stories. For example, the song Seven reminisces on a memory from Swiftchildhood, while the song Epiphany shares experiences of healthcare workers during the current pandemic and compares them to the experiences of her veteran grandfather.  

Another thing Swift included on Folklore that was not as common on her past albums is singing in the point-of-view of another person. For example, her song “Betty” is about a love triangle, and Swift sings as if she is the male in the story.  

One of my favorite songs from Folklore is called “Mad Woman.” It includes two elements that I noticed Swift used a lot on this new album, but rarely on her past albums: piano playing in the background and the use of swear words. I think “Mad Woman” has a sort of dark theme, which is seen a little throughout the entire album.  

Both the release of Folklore and the sound of the album itself were a huge and amazing surprise. Swift gave us new music in this time of uncertainty, and at the same time, changed up her whole style. Alternative, indie, or whatever you want to call it, Folklore brought us a new sound and a new side of Taylor Swift, and one that is hopefully here to stay.