2020 works hard but Taylor Swift works harder. On Thursday, Swift announced a surprise new album which will drop at midnight, and the guest list is something to behold. The new album is called Folklore, which Swift called a “brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears and musings into.” Maybe the biggest stunner is that 11 of the 16 songs were co-written or -produced by her fellow once-in-a-generation songwriting luminary The National’s Aaron Dessner.
But that’s not all. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon will make an appearance as well, as will Swift’s frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, who is on pretty much everything these days (Swift says Antonoff is ” basically musical family at this point.”) Swift’s a formidable talent on her own, but this is an enviable crew.
Dessner shared his thoughts on the experience, sounding genuinely enthused about his work with Swift and the finished product. “I’ve rarely been so inspired by someone and it’s still hard to believe this even happened — these songs came together in such a challenging time,” Dessner wrote on Instagram. “She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I’ve ever encountered. There’s a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you’ll love and take comfort in as much as I do.”
And there will, of course, be a new music video too. Swift wrote and directed the video for her new song “cardigan” herself (along with doing her own hair, makeup and styling, along with bringing a medical inspector to oversee the shoot and keep everyone socially distanced.) Swift says “cardigan” will premier on Thursday night.
There are lots more details on Swift’s website, where you can order special, deluxe editions of Folklore along with a few other goodies. In any case, this marks a pretty major shift from Swift, whose album cycles are usually met with the pomp and circumstance of a presidential campaign. This quiet, Joni Mitchell-type release is another new pivot from a rare mix: a global pop star who refuses to get lazy or coast on her own talent.