On “evermore,” she sounds loose and unburdened—free, finally, from the debilitating squeeze of other people’s expectations. It’s a lush, tender, and beautiful album, steadier if less varied than “folklore,” and infused with backward-looking wisdom.
On evermore, she’s gone even smaller. It’s a soft, meditative, consciously quiet album. This time around, she’s not really writing pop songs and presenting them in the clothing of NPR-style indie. Instead, she’s just straight-up writing NPR-indie songs. It’s a small but crucial distinction.
The folklore–evermore era has been one marked by a spirit of artistic freedom. Unbound by pop convention, and perhaps with newfound commercial flexibility – with the success of folklore as proof of surprise-release viability – Swift is able to both explore abstract turns of phrase (“gold rush”) and unfurl narratives (“champagne problems”). On both albums, she’s been permitted to play with sound and texture in a way that feels uncharacteristic of contemporary radio pop.