Which Is a Better Taylor Swift Album, Evermore or Folklore?


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Taylor Swift shocked fans in 2020 by releasing two albums back-to-back. The first being Folklore in July and then Evermore in December as the sister album of the former. But which is a better Taylor Swift album, Evermore or Folklore?

Here’s what I think, having loved both releases:

Taylor Swift’s album Folklore is better than her album Evermore released just a few months later. While both albums are fantastic, Folklore has slightly stronger songwriting as her best ideas were likely used here rather than being saved for Evermore.

Folklore was a surprise for fans.

Partly because Taylor announced the album only a couple of days before its release. They were also surprised because the sound was a deviation from the music Taylor traditionally made.

Evermore was more of the same in the eyes of most in terms of the overall sound of Folklore. Of course, the similarities between the two lead to comparisons.

I took a deep dive into both Folklore and Evermore to see how they are connected. And given her history, we also explored where Taylor stands with ownership of the masters for these albums.

Why are Folklore and Evermore so sad?

Unlike many of Taylor Swift’s earlier sad songs, Folklore and Evermore are not about Swift’s relationship issues and instead about a cast of fictional characters and perspectives she created for these albums.

Many fans have noted that both Folklore and Evermore are extremely sad.

It even led fans early on to wonder if Taylor had gone through another breakup. However, Taylor has explained that these songs are not necessarily her experiences.

People often forget that music is art, just as film and television are.

With Folklore and Evermore, Taylor wanted to tell stories of real life. This isn’t necessarily her life, but the themes on these albums are true for many people.

These albums deal with many of the major themes of life.

Many of the songs tell the story of loss, the idea of wasted potential, and growing up. She wanted to do this with the use of different narrators and characters.

This is no different than what an author does with a novel.

While Evermore and Folklore are both sad, they are also different from each other. Folklore is more grounded in reality, whereas the sister album seems to be more of a fantasy world. Evermore is also a bit more experimental.

And one thing that’s immediately noticeable is the lack of pop production, including autotune.

But does Taylor normally use a lot of autotune?

I actually discussed Taylor Swift’s usual approach in this recent article. I discussed her potential use of autotune as well her singing ability overall. It also takes a look at if Taylor, like many singers, lip-syncs in concert.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Was Folklore or Evermore more successful?

Folklore was more successful than Evermore, selling 836,000 copies in its first week. Comparatively, Evermore only sold 300,000 copies in its first week. But both Evermore and Folklore were immensely successful. 

Part of Folklore’s greater success is undoubtedly the fact that it came first and that both sound similar.

Folklore also broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day on Spotify for an album by a female act. Taylor Swift took the world by storm when she announced Folklore.

It had been such a short time since her last album, so no one was expecting it. As a result of the excitement, Folklore sold like crazy!

Taylor Swift has the biggest selling album of 2020.

In its initial week of release, Folklore sold a combined 846,000 units. This is a combination of digital sales, streams, and also physical copies. While this was not as much as her previous two albums, it was pretty specular.

Folklore went on to become the biggest selling album of that year. This was partly due to the excitement but also because fans were obsessed with dissecting the themes explored on this departure from her usual music.

Although not as big of a seller as Folklore, the follow-up album also performed well on the charts.

The LP debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, with over 300,000 units sold. This seems like a far cry from Evermore, but hardly anyone sells this much their first week these days.

Are all the Folklore songs connected?

Only 3 of the songs on Folklore are connected. The tracks “Betty”, “Cardigan”, and “August” tell the story of a teenage love triangle. Each of the songs tells the perspective of a different member of the triangle.

Many people like to assume that Taylor Swift is telling one story with Folklore. This is not the case as all the songs are not connected.

The decision not to connect all the tracks was probably best.

The song “Betty” is told from the point of view of James, “Cardigan” speaks from Betty’s vantage point, and “August” provides the viewpoint of the girl James cheats with. These perspectives are also from different times in their lives.

When Taylor spoke of the trilogy of songs, she did not specifically say which ones. However, given the themes expressed in the three mentioned, fans are pretty sure.

Why did Taylor Swift Release Evermore?

Taylor stated she released Evermore because she and partner/producer Aaron Dessner of the band The National kept writing after enjoying the process so much after creating Folklore.

But remember, this was in 2020 when many places around the world were shut down and in lockdown. Bands and performers weren’t able to do concerts in many cases.

So why not keep recording?

Many fans have wondered why Taylor Swift released Evermore. This does not mean fans don’t appreciate the album. They simply ask this because it was so soon after Folklore. 

Many fans felt that the Folklore era was cut short.

Most fans look at album cycles as eras, for example, the Folklore era. With the release of Evermore, they felt that it ended what Folklore could have fully become. Many fans wanted more music videos and singles from Folklore.

Taylor has stated that she released Evermore simply because she and members of The National couldn’t stop writing songs.

She said that they were faced with the choice to either “Turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music”.

Also, as an artist, it probably made sense for her to release Evermore when she did. These albums are not normal Taylor Swift, and it seems that maybe she wanted this sound to be associated with one big era.

This allows her to break away from the constraints of the industry.

Does Taylor Swift own the masters to Evermore and Folklore?

Taylor Swift does own the masters to both Folklore and Evermore, just as she has with all her newer releases starting with 2019’s Lover.

Taylor Swift has fostered a major conversation about artists’ rights over the last several years. First, it was the discussion regarding royalties from streaming.

More recently, it has been about ownership of music.

This is important because Taylor’s rights to her pre-Lover albums were sold out from under her. This was because her previous record label, Big Machine Records, owned them.

They would not sell them to Taylor.

Since Taylor Swift is now under a new recording contract, she owns the masters to her last 3 albums, Lover from 2019 and then Folklore and Evermore from 2020. The singer and her legal team made sure her contract was fair for her as an artist.

An artist owning their masters is important. 

This is because this gives them the right to authorize people to sample the music. Owning the masters also means the artists get paid when the songs are sampled.

The master is basically the original recording of a song. It should also be noted that Taylor Swift has started rerecording her old albums to regain the rights to the masters for those.

So far, her Fearless album has been re-released.

Conclusion

Taylor Swift proved with both Folklore and Evermore that she has a lot to offer as an artist.

These are not pop albums, and they also show that she is not as self-absorbed as many believe her to be. For most fans, folklore is the better album.

Some people feel like the singer simply picked the best songs for folklore and then released the rest as evermore. But either way, Taylor Swift’s talent for songwriting is undeniable in any genre.

Speaking of fans, one of her biggest fans is Olivia Rodrigo. 

I took a look at their relationship in this recent article. In it, I go through their history as well as if Taylor influenced Olivia. Both artists are super supportive of each other.

Just click that link to read it on my site.


Photo which requires attribution:

IMG_0791 by makaiyla willis is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Hi, I'm Jeff Campbell, a former DJ, music journalist, musician, and music lover. I'm old enough to have seen all the cool bands and young enough to still remember them.

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