Taylor Swift Successfully Shifts to Indie with New Album ‘folklore’

Abi Zajac, Opinion Editor

Taylor Swift is one of the few artists to have a No.1 single in three genres.

Her latest album,“folklore”, released July 24, broke that record for her; with her lead single “cardigan” debuting No.1 on the charts classified as alternative, according to Alt Press.

Compared to her previous upbeat album “Lover,” Swift’s eighth studio album takes a more melancholy and somber approach to her classic songwriting.  Her producer Aaron Dessner, who has worked with rock bands like The National, may have helped with this change in tone. Swift has previously worked with producers Jack Anton off and Nathan Chapman. Folklore marks Swift’s second album with Republic Records, her prior albums were made with Big Machine Records.

No matter the production, Swift’s ability to craft vivid and detailed stories within her writing shines through just the same as in her prior albums.

In the album’s prologue, Swift describes “folklore” as a product of her imagination running wild during quarantine.

“I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspective of people I have never met, people I’ve known, or those I wish I hadn’t.”

Swift delivers cinematic love stories wrapped in folksy, finger-picked guitar melodies and haunting cello sounds. “cardigan” delivers a chorus reminiscent of a Lana Del Rey song with lyrics “But I knew you/ Dancin’ in your Levi’s/ Drunk under a streetlight, I knew you/ Hand under my sweatshirt/ Baby, kiss it better, I.”

One track written from a different perspective is “betty”; which tells the story of a love-struck teenager, James, who cannot seem to stay loyal. It is backed by acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Swift takes the perspective of Rebekah Harkness, a previous owner of Swift’s Rhode Island mansion, in the track “the last great american dynasty”. She effortlessly blends Rebekah’s biography with her own through their shared history of the house,  all behind a track of soft piano chords and guitar riffs, while letting her layered vocals take center stage.

What makes Swift successful is not her producers, record label, or genre; it is her story-telling ability. “folklore’s” success is just another way of her proving that.

In the documentary “Miss Americana” Swift says: “Everybody in music has their own niche specialty thing that they do that sets them apart from everybody else, and my storytelling is what it is for me.”