While folklore and evermore exist as two excellent seperate records it’s impossible to talk about them without comparison. In any normal circumstance, Swift likely would’ve rolled these songs into one album simply because releasing two albums within 6 months is unheard of for her. So what if she did do that? What would be cut? What would make it and in what order? Here are our thoughts.
1. the 1
This is a natural opener so the only choice for this challenge was to make it the opener or delete it. “I’m doing good I’m on some new shit,” is too good to get rid of so it has to stay. It’s a gentle and alluring introduction to Swift’s new sound.
Willow doesn’t necessarily work as an opener. It’s stark as an introduction but as the second track, it acts as a hand leading you further into the woods. The chorus adds flight to the album with positivity flowing from every crevice.
seven feels so mythical and buoyant that it naturally maintains the giddy heights of willow. “I was high in the sky,” Swift sings as the keys and guitar blur into a golden haze.
cardigan is where the momentum really picks up. Playing with the same keys as seven, it moves at a more determined pace, dancing from one lofty melody to the next. cardigan is the sort of song that just keeps rising without you noticing and that’s the mastery of it.
5. tolerate it
tolerate it is Swift’s character giving it her all in a relationship only to be met with blank emotions. “I know my love should be celebrated but you tolerate it,” is a dagger of a line and a heartwrenching depiction of unrequited love. It’s so gut-wrenching that it would be impossible to remove it from the always emotional TS track 5.
6. the last great american dynasty
There’s a drum that hovers in the background of tolerate it that feels as if it comes to the surface on the last great american dynasty. This is where the story-telling really sets in with Swift giving her version of composer Rebekah Harkness’ time in the Rhode Island home that later became Swift’s.
7. gold rush
american dynasty is folklore‘s most immediate moment so it’s only natural that it’s followed by evermore‘s biggest pop flex. This is when the album starts to tread an emotional path that leads us into a tear-inducing middle. gold rush is Swift and Jack Antonoff at their best pairing ethereal sections with punchy, pop verses.
The best song on folklore and also the best song on this album. It rightfully sits around the mid-way point providing a stunning centerpiece. august is so alluring it feels like you’re completely surrounded by swirling guitars and wondrous vocals. A climactic, cinematic moment that fills the heart.
9. ’tis the damn season
‘tis the damn season encompasses you like august. The drums rollick in and out without warning pumping the heart up and then deflating it. It’s the story of Swift’s character returning home for the holiday season and reuniting with an old flame. She so subtly captures those complicated feelings of nostalgia and regret.
10. this is me trying
tolerate it and this is me trying share similar lyrical content. In both, she’s giving it all she’s got to repair something while not really getting any reciprocation. “It’s hard to be at a party when you feel like an open wound,” she sings over sweeping orchestration in one of the album’s most soul-destroying lines.
11. long story short
We’re going to need to pick it up a little bit now to avoid complete darkness. That’s where long story short comes in – the most vibrant kick across both albums. A rollicking, energetic comeback tale that would’ve been at home on Red.
12. no body, no crime (Feat. Haim)
Let’s not stop the fun there. no body, no crime is one of the wickedest moments of Swift’s career, crafting a fictional murder plot. She approaches it playfully backed by charismatic Haim vocals.
The country stylings continue on betty – an early fan favourite from folklore. The song exists as part of a trio (with august and cardigan) which forms the narrative of Betty and James. We had to keep all three on here.
According to Swift, Dorothea went to the same school as Betty and James. While Betty is clearly more of a harmonica fan, Dorothea goes for heavy keys and weighty percussion. dorothea is a sing-song in the middle of a dive bar in rural America and we’re in need of that sort of simplicity at this point in the record.
15. exile (Feat. Bon Iver)
exile appeared early in folklore but we think it needs more of a run-up to truly hit hard. It’s an emotional duet of a crumbling relationship bringing the kind of heaviness usually reserved for the dying moments of an album.
Instrumentally, peace is one of the simplest songs across the two albums. Over a flickering synth and a simmering guitar, Swift tells her partner, “I could never give you peace.” While many of these stories end in heartache, peace doesn’t. It’s the story of compromise. Laying out all your flaws and continuing anyway.
We’re learning lessons now. Maturing. marjorie was written about Swift’s grandmother who dies when she was 13. It’s sad but also heartwarming with Swift passing on the lessons taught by her Marjorie – “Never be so clever, you forget to be kind.” It’s the sort of wisdom and heart that you need from the end of an emotionally dense album.
18. my tears ricochet
my tears ricochet appeared early on in folklore but feel it hit you as a heavy closer. Instrumentally it rises and falls as a cinematic closer should but it’s also all about the lyrics here. “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace,” she sings. If that’s the case, she proves it by ending the album with a determined statement. “Look at how my tears ricochet,” she sings, coming back stronger, as the music fades out to a gentle whistle.