As the woman herself sang on “exile,” I think I’ve seen this film before. Taylor Swift’s ninth album evermore is out now, along with the music video for single “willow.” When she announced the project on December 10, Swift described evermore as a “sister” album to July’s folklore, which she also announced the day before its release. And like “cardigan,” the video for “willow” was directed by Swift and shot by Oscar nominee Rodrigo Prieto. Swift is very much still living in folklore land, as the video begins with Swift wearing her titular “cardigan.” As the video continues, Swift takes a dive in an enchanted lake, and plays a magical mandolin at a medieval carnival of sorts while wearing a flower crown. She keeps up the magical, medieval energy, dancing in a cape before following an “invisible string” that leads her over the piano from “the 1” to her man.
So, why all this so soon? “To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs,” Swift tweeted with the album announcement. She went on, “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.” And for all you Swift numerologists out there: Swift turns 31 this December 13, two days after she releases evermore, and 31 is the reverse of her lucky number 13, as she noted in a tweet. (Swift may not do album rollouts anymore, but she does still adhere to New Music Friday, and music journalists everywhere thank her for it.)
The album follows Swift’s folklore documentary the long pond studio sessions and the first taste of her re-recorded old music in a Match.com ad directed by friend Ryan Reynolds. Along with continuing the cottagecore aesthetic, evermore features a similar cast of collaborators as folklore, including the National’s Aaron Dessner, Bon Iver, longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff, and Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn a.k.a. William Bowery. This time, though, she opened up the project just a bit, with features from Dessner’s full band the National (also featuring his brother Bryce and singer Matt Berninger) and her friends Haim, who released their own album Women in Music Pt. III earlier this year, and background vocals from Marcus Mumford on “cowboy like me.” The full album logs 15 tracks, along with two more on the deluxe. Is “‘tis the damn season” the Christmas song 2020 deserves? Is “champagne problems” better than Katy Perry’s recent song of the same name? There’s only one way to find out: