Taylor Swift
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 29th, 2020 | 22 replies


Release Date: 11/27/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An enjoyable counterpart to folklore which illuminates some of the record's previously overlooked subtleties.

If there was something missing from folklore, it was that the album’s “indie-folk” premise felt betrayed by its insistence on conducting itself as a series of slow pop songs. ‘seven’ was charming and hauntingly rustic, and the harmonica was a nice touch on ‘betty’, but for the most part folklore couldn’t be distinguished by an unknowing ear from Reputation’s or Lover’s downtempo ballads. Tossing in a Bon Iver feature seemed like a desperation move – a hail mary attempt to reach an aesthetic that the other sixteen tracks couldn’t. In spite of all this, folklore was still a superb record – arguably even her best – because regardless of genre categorization, the songwriting was excellent. It also moved the spotlight on Taylor Swift’s relationships/feuds/politics back to her music, which has always been the most interesting thing about her. For these reasons and more, folklore deserved the shine that it received in 2020.

What these Long Pond Studio Sessions do is finally realize the stripped-down atmosphere that Swift was aiming for all along. The entire album was re-recorded in a small live studio (a cozy and plush cabin in Hudson, NY) with Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, and the intimate setting lends it a sense of heightened contemplation. Sans much of the percussion and nearly all of the frills that wrapped a bow around folklore, we’re merely left with the skeletal versions of these tracks. Swift’s voice sounds bare and exposed at times, which is precisely what folklore needed to make it a believable “quarantine folk album.” Many of the tracks undergo very subtle tonal shifts and instrumental variations compared to their original counterparts, but the starkest difference here comes via ‘mirrorball’s fantastic re-imagining as an all-acoustic track, replete with a piano flourish which highlights the emotional delivery of the outro. A close second is her breathtaking performance on ‘illicit affairs’, which floats atop pristinely flowing guitars while providing a backdrop that draws the emotion out of some of her very best lyrics: “For you, I would ruin myself a million little times.” Long Pond is worth the ticket price just for these moments.

Aside from scaling everything back to an almost demo-like state, most of Long Pond Studio Sessions doesn’t reveal anything new other than an appreciable sense of proximity. The songs aren’t substantially restructured in any way, while the melodies and delivery remain mostly familiar. Long Pond could have split the album open and sent us spiraling into a ravine of improvised creativity, but it sticks pretty close to the itinerary instead. In some ways that’s mildly disappointing, but this piece otherwise delivers exactly what it promises with a gorgeously exposed take on folklore. Other than watching the accompanying film, the best aspects of these sessions can be gleaned from understated differences that only a passionate folklore fan would notice: pronounced inflections, cracks in Swift’s voice, and an overall atmosphere which feels candid, cozy, and warm. While it’s not quite essential, it’s certainly an enjoyable counterpart to folklore which illuminates some of the record's previously overlooked subtleties.



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user ratings (20)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
November 29th 2020


36755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a really pretty, but fairly standard, folklore redux. I loved the album so I appreciated the stripped-down feel to this. Check the re-imaginings of 'mirrorball' and 'illicit affairs' if you're considering bothering with this - they were my two favorites here.

Digging: Leon III - Antlers in Velvet

YourDarkAffected
November 29th 2020


1860 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review! Agree with all this, especially how stunning Mirrorball and Illicit Affairs are, though I'd argue "My Tears Ricochet" is the highlight here in the way it wasn't on the LP.



Also cool to see it all filmed at the Dessner twins' studio (the studio on the cover of Sleep Well Beast)

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 29th 2020


36755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I almost mentioned that song too but I was admittedly pretty lazy with the song citations lol. It's a highlight as well, for sure.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
November 30th 2020


66738 Comments


wish she drowned in Long Pond

Digging: Bodhisattya Pal - Astronomer's Dilemma

Fort23
November 30th 2020


3763 Comments


My girl loves Taylor swift and it made me realize how irritating her music is

MillionDead
December 2nd 2020


3693 Comments


lmao I'm wondering how boring this one is.

unclereich
December 2nd 2020


9713 Comments


stop shaming my wife

Digging: Plutocracy - Sniping Pigz

MillionDead
December 2nd 2020


3693 Comments


"her music, which has always been the most interesting thing about her." Oh God. What an unintentional insult lmao.

But obviously the write up is good, Sowing!

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 2nd 2020


36755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just mean that all the drama, Kardashian feuds, relationship headlines, and more recently having her arm twisted by Hollywood into being a political mockingjay - none of it is why we pay attention to Swift.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 2nd 2020


66738 Comments


Her feud with scooter braun is a lot more interesting then her music tbh

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2020


33380 Comments


yup ngl celebrity drama is about 85% of the reason i pay any attention to her most of the time, and it's usually the more gratifying end of the quotient

Digging: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - Carnage

claygurnz
December 2nd 2020


6360 Comments


'Her feud with scooter braun is a lot more interesting then her music tbh'

No doubt lol


Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 2nd 2020


66738 Comments


Kanye interrupting her vma speech is also several times more iconic than anything shes ever "written"

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 2nd 2020


36755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All that stuff stands out, but I've always found that her appeal as a songwriter outweighs the background noise.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 2nd 2020


66738 Comments


The day i find an appealing T-Swizz song I promise I'll come and sing it's praises, but so far it's been a bleak journey for me




I've come around on Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga so anything is possible

rodrigo90
December 3rd 2020


6650 Comments


Another one?

HOLY FUCK

claygurnz
December 3rd 2020


6360 Comments


Yeah another one, don't forget that she's also rerecording her albums since she lost the rights to them. It's expensive out here for a Taylor stan.

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 3rd 2020


36755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm curious how different her re-recordings will be from the originals. I heard a snippet of her 'Love Story' redux and it sounded like she was pretty much just retracing things with no variation. Maybe that's the point, I don't know.

JeremiahBullfrog
December 4th 2020


876 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My Gf made me watch this, and I can honestly say im starting to become quite the fan.

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 4th 2020


36755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah it's an easy atmosphere to get lost in. I definitely find myself sitting through the entire thing once I get more than 1-2 songs in.



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