Swift’s lyrical power just about survives the greige indie atmospherics supplied by the National’s Aaron Dessner
Taylor Swift’s surprise eighth album, Folklore, takes 16 complex and intriguing tunes by pop’s reigning colossus and gussies them up in atmospherics acceptable to the mature indie rock listener. Gone are the brash production values, the musical pugilism that codes Swift as “pop”. Gone are the trademark valedictory shouts at the end of her songs. In their place are tunes that exhibit a desire to be taken seriously by a different demographic, one whose delicate sensibilities are more responsive to ruminative thrums and just-so orchestrations.
Take Epiphany, the war-themed song Swift has said was inspired by her grandfather Dean landing on the beaches of Guadalcanal in 1942. The song is sombre, its medical subplot chiming gently with the suffering being wreaked by coronavirus (“Hold your hand through plastic now/ Doc I think she’s crashing out”). Swift ends some of her lines with emphatic yelps.