Whatever you do, do not compare your achievements in coronavirus quarantine to those of Taylor Swift. Because, according to critics, they are massive. In dropping her eighth album, Folklore, compiled of 16 songs plus a bonus track written and recorded in quarantine conditions (with help from Jack Antonoff and the National's Aaron Dessner), Swift has cleansed her musical palate and taken her songwriting genius to a whole new level, critics swoon. Four takes:
- "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," writes Jason Lipshutz at Billboard. "The darkest moments of Folklore never ring hollow. And when the light pours in, the vision is breathtaking," he adds, noting the song "Invisible String" is "one of the flat-out greatest songs Swift has ever written."
- Contemplative rather than reflective, Folklore "sounds like it was years in the interactive making," writes Chris Willman at Variety. It presents Swift "afresh, as your favorite new indie-electro-folk/chamber-pop balladeer." Indeed, "it's hard to remember any contemporary pop superstar that has indulged in a more serious, or successful, act of sonic palate cleansing."
- "Taking a page from ... Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King," Swift "reminds us once again that she's the most gifted songwriter in music today," writes Patrick Ryan at USA Today. "Evocative metaphors and diary-like lyrics … capture familiar feelings in ways you didn't know were possible" and are presented in so unhurried a way as "allowing them to hit that much harder." Just "try not to cry listening to 'August,' in which she wistfully recounts a summer love gone south in achingly specific detail."
- And, as you’re probably expecting by now, Laura Snapes at the Guardian gives Folklore a five-star review. "The self-awareness that Swift displayed on Lover deepens in Folklore." The result is an album that "will endure long beyond [this summer]: as fragmented as Swift is across her eighth album—and much as you hope it doesn’t mark the end of her pop ambitions—her emotional acuity has never been more assured."
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