There. I said it.
I hate to divide American’s even further but after reading all the glowing reviews for Taylor Swift’s Folklore, and actually giving the album a try myself, I have to get this off my chest.
Folklore is not an album I would recommend.
Maybe it was all the hype behind the album. Or maybe it’s because I’m a guy, the ripe old age of 31.
As a fan of the folk genre (i.e. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Monsters of Folk), and knowing she worked with Aaron Dessner of The National, I had hopes this would be the version of T.Swift I truly enjoyed.
I was wrong.
Though she nails the storytelling that typically accompanies folk music, as well as the laid back melody, it’s how she tells the story that misses the mark.
And here’s where my age comes in: I cannot relate to her lyrics.
Her album is a collision of the folk style and the poppy lyrics that made her famous. Fans won’t find anything like “Shake It Off” on this album, a song I admittedly have sung to my infant son.
They will hear plenty of call backs to high school or college.
A lot of her songs focus on relationships and family, and her attempts at connecting with her audience seem genuine, but I am constantly put off by the use of today’s street talk.
Here’s an example from her chart topping “The 1″:
- I’m doing good, I’m on some new sh*t
- Been saying “yes” instead of “no”
- I thought I saw you at the bus stop, I didn’t though.
There are other songs with lyrics that more miss than hit. Here’s an example from “August”:
- Salt air, and the rust on your door
- I never needed anything more
‘Cardigan’ is okay but it is named after a hipster fashion trend.
Now perhaps I’m missing the point. Perhaps she’s just appealing to her audience.
If that means more of today’s generation will start broadening their music horizons beyond the radio, and giving folk and other genres a try, then great.
My issue then lies with all the music reviewers out there, who work for esteemed publications, who praised her lyrics as profound. Check out what Billboard said:
“Swift presents her new album as a songwriting tour de force, demonstrating the scope and depth of her artistic skill as she ruminates on the passage of time, grasps at fleeting memories and refuses to mince words or sugarcoat a sour reality...”
On scope alone, sure, she’s a force that deserves recognition, just based on the fact she cranked out a 17-track album during lockdown.
Rolling Stone said, “It’s going to take weeks, if not decades, to puzzle out all the intricately interwoven narrative details of these songs. "
I disagree whole heartedly. She lays out the stories plain as day, and where her fragmented lyrics may leave the listeners to fill in some blanks, it’s not something that requires Batman (the world’s greatest detective) to piece together.
By no means do I have the credentials to question the reviewers behind those statements. I do wonder whether they reviewed her music with the notion it’s for the younger crowd.
Or maybe the reviewers have some bias they should maybe acknowledge before diving into an album.
On top of all the stellar reviews, the TODAY Show dedicated a whole segment to how good her album is. That’s when I decided I had to listen to it and judge for myself. And so I have.
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