The artist dropped her wonderfully stripped-back, bright yet smoldering eighth album Folklore at midnight on Friday (July 24), featuring a treasure trove of indie-folk flourishes courtesy of The National’s Aaron Dessner, who co-wrote most of the album with Swift; his brother, Bryce, who handled some orchestration; and a slew of other notable collaborators, including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and trusted pal Jack Antonoff.
But none of it would work if it wasn’t for Swift herself, who’s written some of the most affecting, drivingly narrative, and endearing songs of her catalog for Folklore, an album she ostensibly wrote and recorded in quarantine. That searing, crackling personality comes through in the lovely “Cardigan,” a exploration of feeling new with someone despite what may come after the newness wears off.
That whimsy is on full display in the accompanying video, one that puts Swift front and center in an autumnal tale centered around a transportive piano.
Directed by Swift herself in quarantine (who also styled herself and did her own hair and makeup), the visual pulsates with the wooded, fantastical implications of Folklore’s title, especially as she evokes both Peter Pan and Wendy in the lyrics. “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan / Under someone’s bed / You put me on and said I was your favorite,” she sings on the refrain, weathering both a bitter storm at sea and a tranquil, waterfall-laden scene amid vast greenery.