I still remember the first time I saw Love Story playing in MTV. In an era where hip-hop dominated what was played in the network, this music video of a young Country singer with a song about Romeo and Juliet felt so out of place, yet very fresh. Fearless, Taylor's second album, represented exactly that: a true Country record breaking into the mainstream.
From that point on, we've all been witnesses of her musical evolution: Speak Now cemented what we now call Country Pop, while Red and 1989 marked a huge shift in her music, leaving Country behind to focus in pure Pop.
Reputation and Lover have been polarizing to say the least, and one possible reason could be that Pop music finally caught up. Her songwriting had always given her albums their soul, and it still holds true with these albums, but the singles released struggled to stand out.
folklore certainty seems to mark another shift in Taylor's music, away from pure Pop and Country, to what could be called a true mature sound. The overproduction found in the two last albums is replaced with a much more raw sound, which lifts her songwriting skills up.
my tears ricochet is a perfect example, as it features Taylor almost singing a capella for almost half of the song, highlighting the message:
I didn't have it in myself to go with grace
And you're the hero flying around, saving face
And if I'm dead to you, why are you at the wake?
Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet
As a whole, this album's vibe fits right into the late 90s Adult Contemporary era, evoking the sound of Jewel, Tori Amos, or Fiona Apple. Like all of them, Taylor makes emphasis on vocal melody over a subtle soundtrack of mostly acoustic instruments. In the end, folklore keeps Taylor's most important asset: honest musical craftsmanship. It is a Taylor Swift album after all, and sounds like one too.