Evermore (Taylor Swift album)

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Evermore
A picture of Swift's back. She is wearing braids and a plaid coat. The background is a blurred picture of a forest.
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020 (2020-12-11)
RecordedJuly–December 2020
Studio
Genre
Length60:38
LabelRepublic
Producer
Taylor Swift chronology
Folklore
(2020)
Evermore
(2020)
Singles from Evermore
  1. "Willow"
    Released: December 11, 2020
  2. "No Body, No Crime "
    Released: January 11, 2021[A]
  3. "Coney Island"
    Released: January 18, 2021[B]

Evermore (stylized in all lowercase) is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records, less than five months after Swift's eighth studio album, Folklore (2020). A product of Swift's extended collaboration with her Folklore producer Aaron Dessner, Evermore is a conceptual sequel to its predecessor, both being surprise albums announced hours before release. Swift described Evermore as a "sister record" to Folklore.

Expanding on its predecessor's indie/folk sound, Evermore is a wintry alternative rock and chamber rock album built around sparse arrangements of fingerpicked guitars, smooth pianos, and strings. Its lyricism revolves around both fictitious and non-fictitious themes of love, marriage, infidelity, noir, and grief, elaborated in form of third-person narratives and impressionist storytelling. It features guest appearances from American bands Bon Iver, Haim, and the National. Evermore received universal acclaim from music critics, who praised its character dynamics and experimental production, with many dubbing it a contrasting companion to Folklore. Evermore appeared on many year-end best albums lists of 2020.

Evermore reached number-one in Australia, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It opened atop the Billboard 200, making Swift the first woman in US history to amass eight consecutive number-one debuts on the chart. All 15 of the album's tracks entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week, led by the lead single "Willow", which became the seventh number-one single of her career and her second number-one single in 2020 after "Cardigan"; Swift became the first act to simultaneously debut atop both US Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts twice. She also broke the record for the shortest gap between two number-one albums in Australia and the fastest woman to collect six number-one albums in the UK. Republic Records reported more than a million copies of Evermore sold in its first week globally.

Background[edit]

On July 24, 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Swift surprise-released her eighth studio album, Folklore, to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. It became the best-selling album of 2020 and garnered five nominations at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.[1] On November 25, 2020, a documentary concert film titled Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions was released on Disney+. It detailed the creative process behind Folklore with the performances of the album in its entirety.[2] On December 10, 2020, three days before her 31st birthday, Swift uploaded nine photos on Instagram, which together formed a grid image of the singer's back. In another immediate post across all her social media accounts, she announced that her ninth studio album, titled Evermore, will be released at midnight. She revealed the tracklisting and added that a music video for its opening track, "Willow", would premiere on YouTube alongside the album's release.[3][2]

Referring to lockdown regulations in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Swift wrote: "You've all been so caring, supportive and thoughtful on my birthdays and so this time I thought I would give you something! I also know this holiday season will be a lonely one for most of us and if there are any of you out there who turn to music to cope with missing loved ones the way I do, this is for you".[2] Prior to the premiere of the "Willow" music video, Swift likened Evermore to fall and winter, in contrast to its predecessor's spring and summer.[4]

Conception[edit]

To put it plainly, we just couldn't stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in ... I've never done this before. In the past I've always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with Folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales. I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them.

— Swift on the origins of Evermore, NME[3]

In spite of releasing Folklore, Swift continued to work remotely with Dessner, who would send her his instrumental tracks, to which she would write the lyrics. Spontaneously, these sessions resulted in a project that was a natural extension of Folklore.[5] This extension soon assumed its individual identity, giving rise to Evermore. Dessner stated that he "didn't need to talk much about structure or ideas or anything" with Swift, and deemed Evermore as a "weird avalanche" effecting from Folklore.[6] In comparison to its predecessor, the development of Evermore was a more experimental process, during which Swift and Dessner did not subject themselves to any limitations.[5] In an interview with Zane Lowe, Swift stated that Evermore gave her a feeling of "sort of quiet conclusion and sort of this weird serenity", after putting out Folklore.[7]

Writing and recording[edit]

Swift embraced the style of songwriting that stemmed from Folklore—lyricism rooted in first-person fiction.[6] Like its predecessor, Evermore is also a product of remote collaboration and virtual communication,[7] and was recorded in total secrecy.[5] Aaron Dessner produced all of the album's tracks except "Gold Rush", which was produced by Jack Antonoff.[8] Much of the album was recorded during the making of Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Swift's 2020 Disney+ concert film.[5]

Aaron Dessner (pictured left) produced 16 out of 17 tracks of Evermore, while the album's orchestration was composed by his twin brother, Bryce Dessner (pictured right).

After the release of Folklore, Swift wrote two songs, "Closure" and "Dorothea", for Big Red Machine, Dessner's band with Justin Vernon, but they ended up being on Evermore. To celebrate Folklore, Dessner casually created an instrumental track "Westerly", named after the location of her Rhode Island home. An hour later, Swift wrote "Willow" to the track and sent him back.[6] She wrote the title track "Evermore" with Joe Alwyn (credited under the pseudonym William Bowery) and then it was sent it to the frontman of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, who added the bridge. Dessner realized that they were creating a sister album to Folklore only after the duo wrote more than seven songs. Dessner composed "Tolerate It" on a piano in 10
8
time signature and sent it to Swift, who conjured a scene in her mind upon hearing the track, and sent back the track with finished lyrics. Dessner stated that he "cried when [he] first heard" the song's lyrics.[5]

Swift traveled to Dessner's home in upstate New York to film Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions at his studio. Dessner narrated, "we played all night and drank a lot of wine after the fireside chat—and we were all pretty drunk, to be honest". Once filming was complete, Swift stayed at Long Pond overnight, to record with Dessner and Antonoff. The next morning, Swift approached Dessner in his kitchen with "'Tis the Damn Season" which she wrote in the middle of the night, and sang it to him.[6] Dessner cited "'Tis the Damn Season" as one of his favorite works ever, and that it could have just remained as instrumental music, but instead, Swift's "incredible storytelling ability and musical ability took it and made something much great".[5]

"No Body, No Crime" was solely written by Swift on a rubber-bridge guitar Dessner got for her. She mailed him a voice memo of the song, after which he started developing it. Swift had specific ideas on how she wanted the song, including a guest feature Haim. The Haim sisters recorded in Los Angeles, and forwarded it to Swift, who was at Long Pond. The harmonica and guitar riffs on the song were played by Josh Kaufman, who also played the harmonica on "Betty" from Folklore. JT Bates played the drums on "No Body, No Crime", and also contributed the drums on "Dorothea".[5]

Dessner and his twin brother, Bryce Dessner, sent Swift some of the instrumentals they made for their band, the National. One of those was what would become "Coney Island". Swift and Alwyn wrote its lyrics, and recorded it with her vocals. After listening to the demo, the Dessner brothers observed that the song feels very related to the National, and envisioned Matt Berninger (lead vocalist of the National) singing it, and Bryan Devendorf (drummer of the National) playing its drums. Aaron Dessner informed Berninger, who was "excited" for the idea. The band assembled, Devendorf played the drums, while his brother Scott Devendorf played the bass and pocket piano; Bryce Dessner helped produce the song.[5]

"Marjorie" was an instrumental precursor to "Peace", the fifteenth track on Folklore. The latter's drone is present in the former's bridge. The backing rhythm of "Marjorie" was composed from an "Allovers Hi-hat Generator", a software developed by Minnesotan producer Ryan Olson, which has been used in many songs by Big Red Machine. The instrument takes any sound and splits them into samples, and regenerates them in randomized musical patterns. Dessner went through the patterns, picked his favorite parts, looped them, developed it into an instrumental, and sent it to Swift, who wrote "Marjorie" to it, a song about her maternal grandmother and opera singer, Marjorie Finlay. Swift also sent a folder of Finlay's old opera records to Dessner, who sampled some of it on the song. "Right Where You Left Me" and "Happiness" were written days before Evermore was finished. Dessner had been working on the composition of "Happiness" since 2019, thinking it would be a song for Big Red Machine; however, Swift admired its instrumentals and ended up finishing its lyrics. "Right Where You Left Me" was for Big Red Machine as well, before Swift heard it and wrote its lyrics.[5][9]

I've rarely had this kind of chemistry with anyone in my life—to be able to write together, to make so many beautiful songs together in such a short period of time. Inevitably, I think we will continue to be in each other's artistic and personal lives. I don't know exactly what the next form that will take, but certainly, it will continue. I do think this story, this era, has concluded, and I think in such a beautiful way with these sister records.

— Aaron Dessner on collaborating with Swift on Evermore and Folklore, Rolling Stone[5]

Vernon was profoundly involved in Evermore more than Folklore. He played the drums on "Cowboy like Me" and "Closure", guitar and banjo on "Ivy", and contributed backing vocals in "Marjorie". For "Closure", he processed Swift's vocals through his Messina vocal modifier,[5] which distorts her soft timbre into a robotic growl.[10] In "Ivy", Dessner added sleigh bells to invoke winter-oriented emotions, coinciding with the song's wintry imagery. He intentionally added "a wintry nostalgia" to most of the music in Evermore, leaning towards the idea that the album manifests fall and winter, as Swift told him about how Folklore feels like spring and summer to her, while Evermore is fall and winter. Dessner opined that mixing the album's 17 songs was a "Herculean task" and that the sound engineer Jon Low thought that they would not finish the album on time.[5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Man singing into a mic
Evermore contains two duets: "Coney Island" with Matt Berninger of the National (pictured left), and the title track with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (pictured right).

Evermore has been described as a sequel, side B, second chapter, or companion record to Folklore.[11] The digital edition of Evermore is one hour long, consisting of 15 tracks, while the deluxe edition adds two bonus songs.[12] The album features guest appearances from three American bands—Haim, the National and Bon Iver on "No Body, No Crime", "Coney Island", and "Evermore", respectively—and background vocals from Marcus Mumford on "Cowboy like Me". Evermore was written and produced by Swift, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner and Antonoff, with additional production credits to BJ Burton and James McAlister on "Closure", and additional writing credits to Joe Alwyn (under the pseudonym William Bowery) on "Champagne Problems", "Coney Island" and "Evermore", and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on "Evermore".[8][13]

Composition[edit]

Evermore is an alternative rock,[14] chamber rock[15] and folk-pop[16] album with country elements,[17] expanding on its predecessor's minimal,[18] indie-folk[19] sounds;[20] however, Evermore is looser and more experimental in its sonic cadences.[19][1] The album is characterized by its acoustic core[20] and wintry mood,[21][20] consisting of spare arrangements,[21] slow-burning melodies, burbling,[22] fingerpicked acoustic guitars, swaying electric guitars,[14] smooth[23] and somber[17] pianos, warm and woozy synthesizers, mandolin,[14] throbbing drum machines,[21] lush strings,[24] subtle layers of Mellotrons, flutes, French horns, cellos,[20] Swift's mellifluous vocals, and gauzy backing vocals[23] drenched in a misty atmosphere.[14]

In tracks like "Gold Rush" and "Long Story Short", the album occasionally employs pop beats and hooks.[19][16] The Daily Telegraph observed that Evermore carries no sense of tempo or urgency, departing from the stadium-suited tempos of Swift's earlier works.[23] In Tom Hull's opinion, while Swift remains attentive to "production details", Evermore follows Folklore in abandoning "pop glitz" in favor of "straightforward songcraft" due in part to the pandemic shifting "her focus from arenas to your living room. Or sometimes bedroom".[25] Stereogum described it as "a soft, meditative, consciously quiet" album of "restorative old-school singer-songwriter music".[26]

Lyrics and themes[edit]

As an extension of its predecessor, Evermore is an intimate album[27] heavily rooted in elaborate first-person storytelling from third-person perspectives,[19] and their character studies.[14] It ventures deeper inside the world Swift imagined with Folklore,[11] blending facts and fiction.[27] Both albums share a common escapist concept,[24] but unlike Folklore's more introspective, romantic nature, Evermore is freeing, bold, uninhibited,[19][27] playful,[28] impressionist,[20] and confessional in tone,[21] delving extensively into Swift's ideas of adult love and pain.[29] The songs generally ruminate[20] themes of forbidden love, romantic neglect, forgiveness, noir,[23] marriage, and infidelity,[30] revolving around a diverse set of characters (like those in Folklore) interconnected throughout the album's tracks, such as embattled couples, scorned friends, and complicated women.[21]

Swift's trademark turns of phrase[19] and wordplay is also abundant in Evermore.[16] Variety observed that "warmth amid iciness" is its recurring lyrical motif.[20] American Songwriter opined that the record has Swift mostly exuding "the 'unhappily ever after' anthology of marriages gone bad".[27] Stereogum labeled the album "observational fiction".[26] Pitchfork noted that Swift remains a versatile, expressive vocalist, and a "wordy" lyricist by mimicking the sound of "rushing, restless endorphins ... to magnify sad, small moments".[17] Spin remarked the "exceedingly complex human emotions" Swift unravels in Evermore, with "precision and devastation".[16]

Songs[edit]

Evermore opens with "Willow", a chill chamber folk[31] love song[20] propelled by picked guitars[18] coupled with glockenspiel, indie-folk orchestrations, programmed drums, and a breathless chorus.[29] "Champagne Problems" is a mournful[32] ballad[29] with spacious,[17] low-fi, oompah piano chords that entwine with guitar arpeggios, and choir vocals.[18] It depicts a difficult girlfriend whose personal struggles disrupt her romantic relationship,[11] lead her to turn down her lover's earnest proposal[18] and take responsibility for the heartbreak.[27] "Gold Rush" is a glimmering chamber-pop song driven by drums, horns, violins, swiveling shifts in tempo,[29][10] and a dreamy chorus. Its frenzy verses are couplets delivered in a pulsating rhythm over persistent beats,[19][33] with a red herring intro and outro made of layered vocals. The song is a daydream that references the California Gold Rush, and discusses the narrator's jealousy and insecurity towards an attractive subject, by mentioning folklore.[29][34]

The ninth track, "Coney Island", centers on a couple who recall their memories together in Coney Island, an entertainment area in New York City.

The fourth track, "'Tis the Damn Season", is a Christmas song that pulls a twist on festive balladry.[14][22] It sees a female narrator arrive to her hometown Tupelo for Christmas holidays, where she encounters her former lover and ends up in bed with him despite knowing the rekindled flame will not lead anywhere.[21][14] The song is built around electric guitar strums, and its narrator is revealed to be a character named Dorothea, later in the album.[27] Chronicling a young woman in an age-gap relationship,[33] "Tolerate It" is the internal agony of the resentful protagonist looking to terminate the unbalanced relationship with her aloof partner.[29][27][26] The slow-building[22] ballad[34] is guided by muffled notes of piano and tense synth-beats.[22][35] Opening with police sirens,[33] the twangy[29] and cinematic "No Body, No Crime" featuring Haim,[11] is a country,[19] pop rock,[27] and country rock song.[14] It tells a macabre story[29] of a woman named Este murdered by her unfaithful husband in favor of his mistress; the narrator, a friend of Este's, takes revenge by murdering Este's husband.[11]

The melancholic seventh track, "Happiness", is an ambient[36] post-breakup/divorce[37] ballad[24] with an ornate arrangement of hazy synthesizers, hi-hats, violin, bass,[37] organs,[18] piano and a soaring drone.[26] It sees the narrator step into the subject's lovelorn shoes,[24] contemplate the split, and apologize for losing track of facts, affirming that she will find happiness again.[29][22] The folk-tinged[34] "Dorothea" is a song from the perspective of the male subject in "'Tis the Damn Season", who stays in Tupelo while his high-school lover, Dorothea, moves to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood career.[11][27] He narrates his backstories of her, such as a skipped prom and feelings of separation,[29] and convinces the TV-famous Dorothea to return to the simplicity of rural life.[14] It is steered by a honky-tonk piano,[36] tambourine, guitars,[29] and notes of Swift's lower register;[34] the song has been compared to "Betty" from Folklore due to their similar perspectives.[27]

The thirteenth track, "Marjorie", is a tribute to Swift's maternal grandmother and opera singer Marjorie Finlay, who inspired Swift's passion for music.

"Coney Island", the ninth track, is an alternative rock,[14] waltz[16] and indie-folk duet[21] with Matt Berninger of the National.[29] The song depicts suburban nostalgia[11] and recollects a couple's memories in Coney Island, New York City;[29] Swift's lucid, melodious vocals counterpoint Berninger's mumbled, rough baritone.[23] The folk song[18] "Ivy" documents a married woman's infidelity,[27][24] over a ticking arrangement[27] of banjo, picked guitar,[18] trumpet, Vernon's gentle harmonies,[17] and a jaunty chorus.[29] It conveys her temptation for her secret lover[18] and the realistic consequences that may hinder their affair,[27] using a metaphor of ivy vines growing over a stone house to represent her deep-rooted attachment to her lover.[34]

In the eleventh track "Cowboy like Me", Swift sings about two con artists who fall in love while frequenting resorts and trying to impress rich beneficiaries.[27] It is an alternative,[29] country,[17] folk rock,[15] and blues tune,[19] with hushed guitars, harmonica riff,[32] mandolin, piano,[29] lap steel,[20] and Mumford's backing vocals.[19] "Long Story Short" is an indie rock song with a rousing post-chorus hook,[29] crisp beats of both live and programmed drums, explosive guitars, and strings. Swift summarizes the worst moments of her life,[32][21] and explains her personal redemption in the song.[29] The poignant "Marjorie"[20] details Swift's grief and guilt over her grandmother and opera singer, Marjorie Finlay,[19] who passed away when Swift was 13 years old.[29] Its lyrics consist of Finlay's advices to her granddaughter, as well as Swift's memories and regrets,[17] while the production samples Finlay's soprano vocals over buzzing synths,[11][32] pizzicato strings,[18] drone, pulse, cello,[21] and a pulsing keyboard arrangement,[17] ending with an ethereal outro. "Marjorie" parallels the thirteenth track on Folklore, "Epiphany", which honors Swift's grandfather.[27]

"Closure", the fourteenth track, is Swift's kiss-off to its subject,[17] a reply to their self-serving request[11] and fake niceties,[29] by pretending to be amicable.[18] It is an industrial-folk song[15] characterized by its unusual 5
4
time signature,[18] and a distinctive,[19] skittering production of brass, strings,[29] electronic creaks, clattering percussions,[18] and synthesized drums.[11] The title track, "Evermore", is a piano ballad that progresses into a thrilling bridge where Swift is joined midway by Justin Vernon's signature falsetto[19] in a call and response.[16] It concludes the album on a cold and somber, but hopeful, note.[29] The deluxe edition of the album includes two bonus tracks. Over a dreamy acoustic arrangement of twangy guitars, "Right Where You Left Me" portrays the heart-rending fate of a love frozen in time.[38][39] Similarly, "It's Time to Go" is a bleak song about the narrator's knowledge of when to exit a relationship, such as a friendship, featuring tales of divorce and losing a dream career to an unfit individual; the song contains references to the sale of the masters of Swift's first six studio albums.[39][40]

Art direction[edit]

Following the lush, ghostly, woodland aesthetic of Folklore, Evermore takes upon a wintry theme, extending as a yuletide sequel of the former's cottagecore.[27][21] Time stated that Folklore is a muted, autumnal palette of sounds and feelings, whereas Evermore is its winter companion with lingering sadness and regret.[41] While Folklore adapts a grayscale monochrome, Evermore is in color.[42]

The album cover artwork of Evermore shows Swift standing in a barren winter field,[41] facing away from the camera with her hair styled in a French braid, wearing a single-breasted, brown and orange checked flannel coat designed by Stella McCartney.[43][44] McCartney revealed that the coat was a sustainable piece from her "23 Old Bond Street Limited Edition Collection"; priced at $2,875, it immediately sold out on fashion retail platform Farfetch after the album's launch.[45] Swift's braid has 31 turns, which has been connected with how the album was released two days before her 31st-birthday.[46] Furthermore, Swift is seen at the edge of a forested area on Evermore's cover; she was seen inside a forest on the cover of Folklore.[42]

Release and promotion[edit]

Evermore was released on December 11, 2020 (two days before Swift's thirty-first birthday) to digital music and streaming platforms only.[47] It is a companion record to its predecessor, Folklore, which was launched less five months prior; both of the projects are surprise albums, announced 16 hours prior to their releases at midnight.[48][49] Evermore marked the second time Swift abandoned her traditional month-long rollout to release an album, after Folklore.[50] Evermore was released in CDs on December 18, 2020. Its cassettes and vinyl discs are due in 2021.[47] The deluxe album's bonus tracks "Right Where You Left Me" and "It's Time to Go", formerly physical-exclusive, was released to streaming services on January 7, 2021.[39]

On December 14, 2020, Swift appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[51] On the December 15, 2020 episode of Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show, English singer-songwriter Paul McCartney revealed that Swift originally decided to postpone the release of Evermore by one week to respect the original December 11 release date of his eighteenth studio album, McCartney III; upon learning this, McCartney decided to release his album on December 18 instead so that Swift could move forward with the rollout of Evermore as initially planned.[52] On January 21, 2021, Swift released a streaming compilation titled The Dropped Your Hand While Dancing Chapter (stylized in all lowercase), consisting of five Evermore tracks and one Folklore track.[53]

Singles[edit]

"Willow" was released as the lead single of Evermore, alongside the album itself, on December 11, 2020.[54] The song was accompanied with a music video directed by Swift.[55] The single reached number-one in Australia, Canada and the United States. "No Body, No Crime" impacted country radio on January 11, 2021 as the album's second single.[56] "Coney Island" impacted alternative radio on January 18, 2021 as the album's third single.[57]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.0/10[58]
Metacritic85/100[59]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[28]
The A.V. ClubA–[60]
DIY4.5/5 stars[61]
Entertainment WeeklyA[32]
The Guardian4/5 stars[14]
The Independent4/5 stars[22]
NME5/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork7.9/10[62]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars[36]
The Sydney Morning Herald5/5 stars[11]

Evermore received widespread acclaim upon release, for its similitude with Folklore, seeing Swift push her musical boundaries.[63][64] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score out of 100 to ratings from publications, the album received an average score of 85 based on 29 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim";[59] it is her second best-reviewed album on the site after Folklore.[65]

Distinguishing Swift as an unrivaled songwriter, Brodie Lancaster of The Sydney Morning Herald found Evermore traveling deeper into the singer's fictitious narratives, and praised the depth and variety of its characters.[11] NME critic Hannah Mylrea opined that Swift pushes her indie reinvention further in Evermore, terming it a "freewheeling younger sibling" while Folklore is the "introspective, romantic older sister"; Mylrea thought Evermore is looser and more experimental, expanding on its predecessor's sonic palette.[19] In congruence, American Songwriter designated Folklore as the "archetypal older sister—a careful, yet hopeless romantic" whereas Evermore is the "bold, scrappy younger one", with the latter being a yuletide evolution of the former's sound.[27] Maura Johnston, writing for Entertainment Weekly, asserted that Swift "levels up" on Evermore by taking musical risks, and dubbed the sister albums as a career-high for the singer.[32]

Spin critic Bobby Olivier thought that the "career-redefining" album finds Swift at her prime, joining "the pantheon of songwriters who consistently deliver despite unimaginable expectations". He regarded Evermore as a stronger work than Folklore.[16] Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club also chose Evermore over Folklore, and noted that the former continues the latter's "universe-building" with stronger songwriting and greater sonic cohesion.[21] Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis thought Evermore continues Swift's departure to alternative rock from mainstream pop, and compared it to her country-to-pop transition in Red (2012); he added that it proves her ability to switch genres easily.[14] Calling it heartfelt and ruminative, Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph lauded the album's emotional songcraft and unhurried tempo, remarking that its songs are not for stadiums.[23]

Patrick Ryan of USA Today gave plaudits to its mystical instrumentation and escapist lyricism, and stressed that Evermore is not a vestige of Folklore, but rather a sister that reinforces Swift's strengths.[49] In her Rolling Stone review, Claire Shaffer saw the album embracing new genres and ambitious storytelling, and welcomed Swift's new artistic direction.[36] The Independent writer Helen Brown deemed the songs haunting and contemplative, and likened their storytelling to a campfire setting.[22] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard stated that the album is more progressive and audacious than Folklore, although posing as a sequel at first. He explained that Evermore explores the complications of adult love more extensively than its predecessor, and flaunts Swift's boldest and richest songwriting.[66]

Variety critic Chris Willman praised the album's subliminal production and Swift's agile vocals, and underlined its impressionist style of storytelling that converges only after multiple listens.[20] Stereogum's Tom Breihan named it an expertful "full-on winter album" populated by subtle growers shrouded in a sedative atmosphere.[26] Jon Pareles of The New York Times commended its diligent sound and poised lyrics, and noted that it contains more character studies than Folklore.[18] In less favorable reviews, Chris Richards of The Washington Post found the album lengthy and rejected Swift's indie direction.[67] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times felt that the album is Folklore's leftovers and "simply repeats its trick", but picked "Tolerate It", "Gold Rush", "Champagne Problems", "No Body, No Crime" and "Dorothea" as highlights.[15]

Year-end lists[edit]

By the time Swift unveiled the album, most publications had already issued their year-end best albums lists.[68] USA Today reported that Evermore released just when the magazine was about to publish their list with Folklore at number one.[69] Evermore was included on lists published after December 11, 2020, topping those by USA Today, NJ.com, and Variety critic Chris Willman.

Evermore on 2020 year-end lists
Critic/Publication List Rank Note Ref.
The Boston Globe Top 12 Best Pop Albums of 2020
N/A
Folklore also listed
Chorus.fm Top 30 Albums of 2020
6
Folklore ranked second
Complex Waiss Aramesh's Albums of 2020
8
Folklore ranked third
Edwin Ortiz's Albums of 2020
7
Good Morning America The 50 best albums of 2020 7 Tied with Folklore [73]
Herald Sun The Best Albums of 2020
N/A
Folklore also listed
Financial Times Best 10 Albums of 2020 9 Tied with Folklore [75]
KIIS-FM Tanya Rad's Favorite Albums of 2020 N/A Folklore also listed [76]
Metacritic The 40 Best Albums of 2020 22 Folklore at 8 [77]
Best Albums, by Year 2020 45 Folklore at 12 [78]
Best of 2020: Music Critic Top Ten Lists 20 Folklore at 3 [79]
Metro Times Best New Music of 2020
2
Tied with Folklore
NJ.com The 50 Albums That Saved Us From 2020 1 Tied with Folklore [81]
Our Culture Mag The 50 Best Albums of 2020 4 Tied with Folklore [68]
The Philadelphia Inquirer Top Pop Music Albums 6 Tied with Folklore [82]
PopSugar The 50 Best Albums of 2020
17
Folklore at 16
Rolling Stone Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2020 5 Folklore ranked first [84]
Slate The Music Club, 2020 2 Tied with Folklore [85]
Star Tribune Jon Bream's Top 10 Albums
5
Tied with Folklore
USA Today The 10 Best Albums of 2020 1 Tied with Folklore [69]
Variety Chris Willman's Best Albums of 2020 1 Tied with Folklore [87]
Wales Arts Review Our Favourite 50 Albums Of 2020 9 Tied with Folklore [88]
Yahoo! Entertainment Lori Majewski's Top 10
6
Folklore ranked first

Commercial performance[edit]

Republic Records reported Evermore sold one million copies in its first-week worldwide, marking Swift's third album in 16 months to do so, and her eighth consecutive studio album to achieve it; all her studio albums, except her 2006 debut album, moved a million copies in their opening weeks.[90] Aided by Evermore, Swift was 2020's top streamed artist on Amazon Music across all genres.[91]

The sixth track "No Body, No Crime" features backing vocals from American rock band Haim. It is one of the album's highest charting tracks.

United States[edit]

Evermore debuted at number one on Billboard 200 chart and remained atop the chart for three weeks. The album moved 329,000 units, consisting of 220.49 million on-demand streams and 154,000 pure copies in its first week; it earned the biggest sales week for an album and biggest streaming week for a non-R&B/hip-hop album since her own Folklore. Evermore is Swift's second number-one album in 2020 and eighth consecutive number-one debut, making her the third female artist to collect eight number-one albums, behind Barbra Streisand (11 number-one albums) and Madonna (9). It was also the biggest sales week for an album since bundles and concert ticket offers stopped factoring. With Folklore charting at number three, Swift became the first woman to simultaneously chart two albums in the top-three since the chart's inauguration in 1963,[47] and the first act to have two albums move 100,000 units each in the same week since Prince in 2016.[92]

The time period between the number-one debuts of Folklore and Evermore was four months and 18 days, marking the shortest gap ever between two chart-topping albums by a woman on the Billboard 200 since 1956. Billboard noted that Evermore was not available in physical copies during its first week, and was released to digital music and streaming platforms only.[47] The album also topped the Alternative Albums chart, replacing Folklore from the top spot.[93] Evermore remained atop the Billboard 200 for a second consecutive week, moving 169,000 units.[94] In its fourth week, the album climbed back to the top spot for a third week atop the chart with 56,000 units. It was Swift's 51st chart-topping week on the Billboard 200, extending her record as the female artist with the most weeks at number one in the chart's history, and tying her with Michael Jackson for the fourth-most weeks overall.[95]

All of the album's 15 tracks entered the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously, generating five top-40 hits. Evermore became Swift's third album to chart all of its standard tracks in the same week, following Lover (2019) and Folklore. Swift became the female artist with the most Hot 100 hits in history with 128, regaining the record from Nicki Minaj. "Willow" landed at number one, marking her seventh number-one single in the US, second number-one hit in 2020, and the third number-one debut of her career. It made her the first act in history to simultaneously debut an album and a single atop both Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts at two occasions, following Folklore and "Cardigan" (2020).[96][97]

All tracks from the standard edition of Evermore appeared on Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, except "No Body, No Crime" which debuted at number two on the Hot Country Songs chart. "Willow" placed first, giving Swift her second number-one hit on the chart, after "Cardigan". Due to eight tracks from Folklore remaining on the chart alongside the 14 from Evermore, Swift occupied 22 of the chart's 50 positions—the second most simultaneous entries in the chart's history, behind Linkin Park (23 entries). On Billboard Hot Alternative Songs chart, Swift claimed 16 spots led by "Willow", besting Machine Gun Kelly's 12 simultaneous entries.[93]

Despite its availability for only the last two weeks of 2020, Evermore became one of the top 10 best-selling albums of 2020. It landed at number eight on Rolling Stone's best-selling albums chart, and at number 10 on Nielsen SoundScan's best selling albums of 2020 with 283,000 copies sold; its sister album, Folklore, was the best-seller of 2020 on both the lists.[98][99]

Other markets[edit]

In Canada, Evermore appeared at the top spot of Billboard Canadian Albums chart, yielding Swift her eighth Canadian number-one album, and her second in 2020.[100] The album spent three weeks atop the chart.[101] Every track from Evermore debuted on the Canadian Hot 100 simultaneously—Swift's third album to do so, after Lover and Folklore. All the tracks except "Closure" landed in the chart's top-50; "Willow" became her seventh Canadian number-one hit, with "Champagne Problems" at number 6, "No Body, No Crime" at 11, "'This the Damn Season" at 13, "Gold Rush" at 14, and "Tolerate It" at 18. With this, Swift amassed 30 top-10 hits and 131 total entries in Canada.[102]

In Australia, Swift achieved a "Chart Double" by occupying the top spots of both albums and singles charts, simultaneously. Evermore entered at number 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart, garnering her seventh chart-topping album. Collecting her second number-one album of the year 19 weeks after Folklore, Swift broke the record for the shortest gap between two successive number-one albums, surpassing the 25 weeks between Ariana Grande's Sweetener (2018) and Thank U, Next (2019).[103][104] "Willow" debuted atop the ARIA Singles Chart, accompanied by 11 other tracks from the album. It marked her seventh Australian number-one hit, and the second in 2020, following "Cardigan".[105] Evermore spent four consecutive weeks at number-one in Australia, tying with Folklore as her second longest-running number one album, behind 1989 (11 weeks at the top).[106]

In the United Kingdom, Evermore topped the Official Albums Chart for two weeks. It made Swift the fastest female artist to accumulate six number-one albums in the country (in eight years, 2012-2020), surpassing Madonna (11 years, 1997-2008), and the first female artist to score six chart-toppers in the 21st-century. The album is her second number-one album in 2020 after Folklore, establishing her as the first act to score multiple chart-topping albums in a calendar year, since David Bowie in 2016.[107][108] On the Official Singles Chart, "Willow" landed at number three and gave Swift her eleventh top-5 hit, while tracks "Champagne Problems" and "No Body, No Crime" arrived at numbers 15 and 19, respectively, increasing her UK top-20 hits total to 21.[109]

In Belgium, Evermore reached number one in its sixth week on Ultratop 200 Albums chart, after debuting at number two. It marked Swift's fifth consecutive number-one album in the country.[110] In Ireland, the album reached its peak of number two on the Irish Albums Chart in its third week. It opened at number three in its debut week, marking Swift's sixth consecutive top-three album in the country; it was the most downloaded and streamed album of the week. Simultaneously, "Willow" also placed at number three on Irish Singles Chart, alongside tracks "Champagne Problems" and "No Body, No Crime" at sixth and eleventh spots, respectively, rising Swift's sum of top-50 hits to 38.[111][112]

In China, Evermore sold over 509,000 copies in its first week.[113] "Willow", "Champagne", "Gold Rush" and "No Body, No Crime" entered Singapore's Top-30 Singles chart, with the former reaching number-one.[114] In New Zealand, the album launched atop the Top40 Albums chart, while its tracks "Willow", "Champagne Problems", "No Body, No Crime" and "Gold Rush" charted at numbers 3, 24, 29 and 34 on Top40 Singles chart, respectively.[115][116]

Legacy[edit]

Swift's fast-succeeding release of Evermore after Folklore was met with appraisal. Variety compared the double-release to that of the Beatles[87] and U2, especially to the latter releasing Zooropa (1993) during the tour for Achtung Baby (1991),[20] while Rolling Stone dubbed it a "hot streak" reminiscent of Prince in 1987 and David Bowie in 1977.[84] Vulture stated that the news of another surprise album from Swift "came as a major shock", as she has been "the industry's most prominent loyalist to the pop-album rollout", who turns her carefully planned releases into "an art of their own".[50] Branding it a testament to her artistic dedication, Our Culture Mag praised Swift's ability to release an album on-par with its predecessor in a short time, while simultaneously rerecording her first six studio albums.[68] NJ.com thanked Swift for making the "miserable year" a little more endurable, and added that no other artist of her stature "created so relentlessly" in 2020.[81] The Sydney Morning Herald named her "the queen of pandemic productivity".[117]

Evermore and Folklore have been lauded as two of 2020's seminal albums. Billboard cited the sister albums as the most notable examples for how the COVID-19 pandemic veered music in 2020, and forced artists to amend their creative process, which in turn lead their works to major success.[118] Arre wrote that Swift bottled the pandemic's cultural crisis in the two escapist albums, transporting listeners to "a simpler world whose sensibility is cottagecore instead of apocalyptic". It questioned the possibility of retrospecting on Evermore without reminiscing the pandemic, and added that future generations will get an idea of 2020 through the sister albums, which condense emotions "impossible to articulate".[119]

Track listing[edit]

Evermore – Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Willow"A. Dessner3:34
2."Champagne Problems"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
4:04
3."Gold Rush"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:05
4."'Tis the Damn Season"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner3:49
5."Tolerate It"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner4:05
6."No Body, No Crime" (featuring Haim)Swift
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
3:35
7."Happiness"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner5:15
8."Dorothea"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner3:45
9."Coney Island" (featuring the National)
  • A. Dessner
  • B. Dessner
4:35
10."Ivy"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
  • Antonoff
A. Dessner4:20
11."Cowboy like Me"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner4:35
12."Long Story Short"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner3:35
13."Marjorie"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner4:17
14."Closure"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
3:00
15."Evermore" (featuring Bon Iver)
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
5:04
Total length:60:38
Evermore – Deluxe edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
16."Right Where You Left Me"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner4:05
17."It's Time to Go"
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner4:15
Total length:69:00
Japanese edition bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
18."Willow" (Dancing Witch Version) ([Elvira Remix])
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner3:04
19."Willow" (Lonely Witch Version)
  • Swift
  • A. Dessner
A. Dessner3:34
Total length:75:30

Notes[edit]

  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer.
  • All track titles are stylized in all lowercase.

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal,[13] Pitchfork,[8] and liner notes.[120]

Musicians[edit]

  • Taylor Swift – lead vocals (all tracks), songwriting (all tracks), production (tracks 2, 3, 6, 15)
  • Aaron Dessner –  production (1, 2, 4–17), songwriting (1, 4, 7-14, 16, 17), drum machine programming (1, 4–5, 7, 9–17), percussion (1, 10–12), keyboards (1, 5, 7, 11–12, 16–17), synthesizers (1–2, 4, 6–7, 9–12, 14–17), piano (1–2, 4–8, 11, 13–15, 17), electric guitar (1, 4, 6–12, 16–17), bass guitar (1, 4–10, 12, 14, 16–17), acoustic guitar (1–2, 4, 6–13, 16–17), synth bass (2, 10–13, 17), mandolin (6), field recording (6), tambourine (8), high string guitar (9–10), drum kit (10), rubber bridge guitar (10), drone (13), banjo (16)
  • Bryce Dessner – production (9), songwriting (9), orchestration (1, 4–5, 7, 9–17), piano (9, 14), pulse (9), electric guitar (12)[a]
  • James McAlister – synthesizers (1, 5, 10, 12, 14), drum machine programming (1, 5, 10, 12), percussion (5), keyboards (5, 10), Vermona pulse (13), drum kit (14, 16)[a]
  • Bryan Devendorf – percussion (1, 10, 13), drum machine programming (1, 5, 9–10, 13, 17), drum kit (9, 12)
  • Yuki Numata Resnick – violin (1, 4–5, 7, 9–17)
  • Clarice Jensen – cello (1, 4, 5, 9–13, 15, 17)
  • Jason Treuting – glockenspiel (1), percussion (5, 9, 13), drum kit (9), crotales (12, 15), metal percussion (12), chord stick (13–14, 17)
  • Alex Sopp – flute (1, 15)[a]
  • CJ Camerieri – French horn (1)[a]
  • Thomas Bartlett – keyboard (1, 4, 7, 8, 16–17), synthesizers (1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 17), piano (8, 16–17)[a]
  • William Bowery – songwriting (2, 9, 15), piano (15)
  • Logan Coale – upright bass (2, 10–11, 14–15)
  • Jack Antonoff – production (3), songwriting (3, 10), drums (3), percussion (3), bass (3), electric guitar (3), acoustic guitar (3), slide guitar (3), piano (3), Mellotron (3), backing vocals (3)
  • Mikey Freedom Hart – DX7 (3), electric guitar (3), nylon guitar (3), Rhodes (3), celeste (3)[a]
  • Sean Hutchinson – drums (3)[a]
  • Michael Riddleberger – drums (3)
  • Evan Smith – horns (3)[a]
  • Patrik Berger – OP-1 (3)
  • Bobby Hawk – violin (3)
  • Nick Lloyd – Hammond B3 Organ (4, 16)[a]
  • Josh Kaufman – harmonium (4, 16), lap steel (4, 6, 11), electric guitar (6, 8, 16), acoustic guitar (8), organ (6), harmonica (6, 11, 16), mandolin (11)[a]
  • Benjamin Lanz – trombone (4, 10), horn arrangement (4), modular synthesizer (8, 10)[a]
  • Danielle Haim – vocals (6)
  • Este Haim – vocals (6)
  • JT Bates – drum kit (6–8, 10, 17), percussion (8, 16–17)[a]
  • Ryan Olson – Allovers Hi-Hat Generator (7, 13, 17)[a]
  • Matt Berninger – vocals (9)
  • Scott Devendorf – bass guitar (9), pocket piano (9)[a]
  • Justin Vernon – backing vocals (10, 13), triangle (10), drum kit (10–11, 14), banjo (10), electric guitar (10–11, 17), Prophet X (13), Messina (14), synthesizers (15), field recording (15), vocals (15), bass guitar (17), acoustic guitar (17)[a]
  • Kyle Resnick – trumpet (10, 12, 14, 17)[a]
  • Marcus Mumford – backing vocals (11)
  • Marjorie Finlay – backing vocals (13)
  • Trever Hagen – trumpet (14), no-input mixer (14)[a]
  • BJ Burton – additional production (14)
  • James McAlister –  additional production (14)
  • Gabriel Cabezas – cello (14–15)
  • Dave Nelson – trombone (14, 17)[a]
  • Stuart Bogie – alto clarinet (15), contrabass clarinet (15), flute (15)[a]
  • Jonathan Low – drum machine programming (16)

Additional instrument recording[b]

  • Kyle Resnick – violin (1, 4–5, 7, 9–17)
  • Bobby Hawk – violin (3)
  • Aaron Dessner – vermona pulse (13)
  • Robin Baynton – piano (Bowery on 15)

Technical[edit]

  • Jonathan Low – recording (1–2, 4–17), vocal recording (1–5; Swift on 6, 9; 10–14; Swift on 15; 17), mixing (all tracks)
  • Aaron Dessner – recording (1–2, 4–17)
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Steve Fallone – mastering
  • Laura Sisk – recording (3), vocal recording (8)
  • John Rooney – assistant engineering (3)
  • Jon Sher – assistant engineering (3)
  • Ariel Rechtshaid – vocal recording (Danielle and Este Haim on 6)
  • Matt DiMona – vocal recording (Danielle and Este Haim on 6)
  • Robin Baynton – vocal recording (7; Swift on 9; Mumford on 11; 16)
  • Sean O'Brien – vocal recording (Berninger on 9)
  • Justin Vernon – vocal recording (Bon Iver on 15)

Design[edit]

  • Beth Garrabrant – photography[121]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[150] Gold 40,000double-dagger
China 560,000[151]
United Kingdom (BPI)[152] Silver 60,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for Evermore
Region Date Format(s) Edition(s) Label Ref.
Various December 11, 2020 Standard Republic [13]
United Kingdom December 18, 2020 CD Deluxe EMI [153]
United States Republic [154]
Various January 7, 2021
  • Digital download
  • streaming
[155]
January 21, 2021 The "Dropped Your Hand While Dancing" Chapter EP [156]
Japan January 22, 2021 CD Japanese Universal Music Japan [157][158]
Brazil January 29, 2021
Deluxe Universal [159]
Various February 21, 2021 Cassette tape [160]
May 28, 2021 LP EMI [161][162]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Released to US country radio only
  2. ^ Released to US Triple A radio only
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s This performer is also credited with recording their instrumentation.
  2. ^ Several performers are also credited with recording their own instrumentation, as noted in the 'Musicians' section.

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