SO Tay-Tay has gone indie? Well, not entirely.
It's not like Folklore has Taylor Swift going full Radiohead or The National, but the latter's Aaron Dessner is one of the album's producers and co-writers.
However, Folklore is Swift's most bold record of her eight-album career. Not necessarily bold in terms of composition, but in whether her passionate fan base would embrace a shift away from polished pop to a more contemplative and serene indie-folk sound?
The answer would appear an affirmative. Folklore, despite only being announced mere hours before its release last Friday, was streamed 80.6 million times on Spotify and 35.47 million times on Apple Music in the first 24 hours.
Anyone anticipating a Swift-style pop banger like Shake It Off to Blank Space might be disappointed but there's a new-found maturity and musical richness the 30- year-old hasn't displayed previously.
Folklore is full of indie-folk and atmospheric chamber pop. Melody remains Swift's strongest calling card, but here she seduces her listener slowly, rather than adopting pop bombast.
The Last Great American Dynasty is lyrically the most interesting cut, where Swift details the life of Rebekah Harkness, a philanthropist and patron of the arts.
Swift bought Harkness' Rhode Island mansion and obviously felt compelled to detail the home's history while spending many hours there in COVID-19 isolation.
This Is Me Trying is another gorgeous moment with warm horns supporting Swift's atmospheric vocal, which takes its cues from Lana Del Ray. Then on August the gentle pop-folk instrumentation wouldn't sound out of place on a Dawson's Creek soundtrack.
At 16 tracks you could argue Folklore would benefit from culling and the gentle pace is repetitive.
But everything here is intentional and supports the nostalgic and whimsical mood Swift has built.
If you've ever turned your nose up at the songwriting ability of Taylor Swift and dismissed her as just another teeny-bop star, this is the record that will undoubtedly change your mind.
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