Music

Taylor Swift – Red (Taylor’s Version)

When we left things in December of 2020, I was at the end of my rope with sad Tay songs. We had just gotten folklore and evermore back to back and there were whispers of a third in woodvale. If you fast forward to the end of my evermore track by track review you’ll find that I said THAT’S ENOUGH. I couldn’t take anymore sobsies. Then a month later she announced Fearless (Taylor’s Version.) We have literally been inundated with Taylor Swift surprise announcements every few months for 2 years now. If you’d like to see my much bitched about rant on this “Taylor’s Version” era, feel free to click HERE and read #5 so I don’t repeat myself for the zillionth time. Down here on earth, I’m a rational fan. I can lose my G-D mind over her releasing a 10 minute version of my favorite song of all time and also be like ok, everyone calm down now. It’s too much. Short films and surprise music videos and her psycho fans are eagle eyeing every TikTok guessing which album will be re-released next. So from an old bird who puts her pajamas on the second she walks in the door from work, here’s a grounded view of Red (Taylor’s Version.)

*It is important to note that Red was released pre-The Salty Ju (so there is no official blog) but it is and has always been my favorite Taylor album. It came out in the fall of my senior year of college, it will forever give me cruising down the thruway in Upstate NY with peak foliage vibes and *not to brag* but I turned 22 that year so THAT SONG WAS BASICALLY WRITTEN FOR ME and anyone who has turned 22 since doesn’t matter and that’s pretty obvious. My age nearly matching up with Taylor has made her albums that much more relatable. Except for the fact that I never had a 3 month whirlwind affair with a Hollywood actor 9 years older than me. But whatevs, my point being that I’ve always been a Red stan and I’ll take any excuse to throw it on rotation and drive around on a crisp fall day singing along. Even though I never originally gave it a track by track review, it wouldn’t be honest to give my gut reactions to these songs I’ve been listening to for 8 years now, also there were THIRTY songs on this album so we will only be breaking down the 9 “from the vault” tracks we’ve never heard before.

Better Man. Alright so there’s two songs “from the vault” (alright, Walt Disney) that were actually written by Taylor and then when she cut them from Red, she sold them off to other country singers to perform. This one was handed over to Little Big Town. So it’s kinda cheating to be like eh this song doesn’t make the cut on my album, sell it to another artist and then circle back and be like I want it now. Total Indian Giver move. If you haven’t been keeping up though, Taylor does whatever the hell she wants now. So LBT can suck it. It’s a classic country breakup ballad though. Cause sometimes you can realize your ex was T-rash but still miss them.

Best Lyric: I know the bravest thing I ever did was run.

Nothing New (Feat Phoebe Bridgers). Immediately was digging on this song. Duetting with Phoebe’s haunting breathy voice really elevated the typical Taylor sound here. Seemed like something that would’ve fit perfectly on her last two emo albums except it’s not about breakups, it’s about when you’re not a shiny new singer anymore and everyone is over you. Based on the pop culture takeover that Taylor has commanded with this re-release and the fact that Spotify literally crashed on Friday at midnight, I don’t think this is a legitimate concern of Taylor’s anymore. And might I add, staying up past 11 on a school night when you’re 30 is embarrassingly difficult and being met with a Spotify “the page you’re looking for does not exist” was a real boner kill. I had myself questioning if I misunderstood which day it was dropping and after finally getting a lil listen in snug as a bug in bed, I was a literal zombie the next morning when my alarm went off. I’m getting too old for this shit. THANKFULLY we had a 7PM short film premiere and now coming up, a 10AM music video. Much more convenient. PS between the “I’ve had too much to drink tonight” and “how long will it be cute, all this crying in my room” I looked around to see if there was a hidden camera in my apt then realized it was physically impossible for 2010 Taylor to know that 2021 Julia is either drunk or crying or bonus round *both* on any given day.

Best Lyric: Criticize the way you fly/ When you’re soaring through the sky/ Shoot you down and then they sigh/ And say, “She looks like she’s been through it”

Babe. The second take backsies on Red (TV.) This one was released by Sugarland but did have Taylor featured on it so it’s not a total rip from Jennifer Nettles’ paws. It is a little weird though because Jennifer has a very distinctive voice so redoing any of her tunes is a stark difference. It’s just meh for me. “What about your promises, promises” would’ve slapped harder with a 3LW lisp. And to be even more honest, a little word association with the word babe immediately brings me back to the Jason Sudeikis & Kristen Wiig “Two A-Holes” SNL bit. Sucks to be you with a normal brain and have lovely positive associations with this term of endearment and then I stomped in and blew that right to smithereens with a callback to Jason chomping gum at warp speed, tacking babe on at the end of every sentence. You’re WELCOME, BEB.

Best Lyric: I hate that because of you, I can’t love you, babe (BEB.)

Message In A Bottle. What a zesty little banger this is! Again, total curveball in the grand scheme of this album. I feel like this would’ve popped OFFFF on 1989 and I’m surprised she lumped it into the Red era. Realistically, every song that Taylor writes and records is a message in a bottle. LOL to think that she’s like I wonder if the person will hear this. Yeah, girl. 90.8 million people hear the message. Anyway, there’s nothing deep to say about this song. It’s fun and 80’s and I can’t wait to dance my face off to it.

Best Lyric: You could be the one that I keep, and I / I could be the reason you can’t sleep at night (Honestly these lyrics are dumb, sorry not sorry. The song ain’t about the lyrics, it’s about having a crush and groovin it out.)

I Bet You Think About Me (Feat Chris Stapleton). The first time I heard this song I cringed because I L O A T H E when Taylor puts on a Dolly twang. It’s so tacky to me. You grew up in Pennsylvania, girl. If anything you should be saying “hoagie” like an uneducated moron, not have a southern drawl. (Please know that when I diss the PA accent, I’m fully aware of the fact that I say “calendar” like an uneducated moron. We’ve all got stupid accents depending on where we grew up.) Obviously everyone has heard “Our Song” and essentially every other song on her debut album where she put on QUITE the show with a little hick flair. While I do enjoy over-enunciating the words to Our Song just to piss off everyone around me, I’m still never going to be down with faking an accent just to do a country song. ESPECIALLY now that you’re a seasoned musician who has proven to be talented beyond belief. We don’t need the dog and pony show you were putting on as a fresh on the scene teenaged singer. Plus, in front of Chris Stapleton?! Girl. Do better. He’s a Nashville ruby red gem. The soulful voice of a cherub and the humble aw shucks I’m just grateful to be here personality that few actually have. I was a little disappointed he didn’t get his own verse like Phoebe did on her guest appearance. I love to hear Chris let it rip. But now that I’ve dumped on the lack of Chris and the presence of fake accent Taylor, I am happy to share that I do really like this song. The cocky laugh at the beginning and the tell-off ‘tude overall is GRAND. I love a snarky Tay. I’ll be the first to admit that 2010 Jake Gyllenhaal was a total babe soda, but my God what a dooooouuuuuuuchhhheeeee. Love that she gave us more ammo to DRAG him because any a-hole who brags about his indie music and his Hollywood connects and leads book talks over wine with his friends deserves to be pooped all over via twangy sass. Million dollar couch and organic shoes?! BOOOOOOO, JAKE, BOo0oOooOo0Oo. Can’t wait for this Blake Lively directed music video.

Best Lyric: I bet you think about me when you say / “Oh my god, she’s insane, she wrote a song about me” – This is the best possible way to end a song where you just DUMPED all over an ex. Wanna call me crazy, DO IT BITCH.

Forever Winter. Considering the content of this song is about someone being severely depressed, it slaps real hard. The way she goes up an octave in the chorus and the oh, oh, oh’s. Chef’s kiss. Apparently it was written for a friend who died of an overdose at 21. So yeah I feel like a real asshat for being like WOW COOL SONG, but also, cool song. Seriously, to have the ability to take a shitty situation and word vom all of your feelings into a bangpiece of a song is something I’ll forever be envious of as I sit on this blog and write poop jokes day in and day out. We’ve all got talents, folks. Some of them are just more impressive than others.

Best Lyric: He spends most of his nights wishing it was how it used to be / He spends most of his flights getting pulled down by gravity

Run (Feat Ed Sheeran). This was the first song Ed and Taylor ever wrote together and even though I’m a BIG fan of Everything Has Changed (and the adorable video that they made to go with it,) this song is like a warm hug after a shitty day. The simplicity to it and their harmonizing voices are perfect. Maybe if something like this was on Ed’s latest album, I wouldn’t have been so hard on it. The way they take turns singing each line is just downright delicious. I’m not saying I wish Ed and Taylor ended up together but I’m not NOT saying it either.

Best Lyric: There’s been this hole in my heart / This thing was a shot in the dark / Say you’ll never let ’em tear us apart

The Very First Night. Another bubblegum pop beat about falling in love and wanting to be up that person’s butthole 24/7. It’s a gift how I can take a cute little song and incorporate the world butthole into it. For realz though everyone knows when you’re in the honeymoon phase of a relationship and you want to follow that person into the bathroom so that you never have to be apart for even one second. It’s all fun and games and smothering until one time you get too snuggly while your boyfriend is eating dinner and he tells you to back off. HONEYMOON PHASE ENDS WITH A SHARP LEFT, FOLKS. Jus sayin. So enjoy this song and soak in the “I miss you so hard when we don’t talk for five minutes” glow while it lasts because as Tay sings…”we broke the status quo, then we broke each other’s hearts.” See? Dark turn.

Best Lyric: I drive down different roads / But they all lead back to you

All Too Well (Ten Minute Version). HERE IT IS BABY. Saved the best for last. Taylor dropped the “oh I have a ten minute version with swear words” morsel over a year ago at this point and since then I’ve been salivating in wait for its release. She obviously knew how savage we all were for this treasure and she built it up as much as one possibly could. Any true fan did exactly what I did upon the re-release of this album. Midnight hit (I refreshed Spotify 5 times until the album appeared) and I scrolled straight down to this track and smashed play. Nothing else mattered. I knew I would get to them eventually but first order of business was see if this was going to ruin the best breakup song ever written or make it infinitely better. And here’s my Salty Ju hot take. My very first listen I was not blown away. I felt like it didn’t flow. These new verses almost sounded like they were parts of a different song, wedged in and disjointed with the perfection that was the OG All Too Well. Then I slept on it. And when I revisited it the following day (SEVERAL times), I was able to approach with a clearer head. Obviously a song that’s 10 minutes long is going to sound nothing like the original version half its length. I’m so glad we got that one first and nothing will ever top it. But now I’m able to appreciate the bigger picture. And that picture is her spilling more tea on how much Jake stinks. And yes, I am absolutely here for it. I prepped all week to get in my feels and become one with heartbreak. The weather cooperated.

@thesaltyju

To ALL of my friends begging me to hang out…I’m booked on Friday night. #redtaylorsversion #swifttok #alltoowell

♬ All Too Well Taylor Swift – TaylorswiftxFolklore

If I may go verse by verse of the new lyrics…*pops the top on a $7 rosé (shout out Wegmans)*

[Verse 2]
Photo album on the counter, your cheeks were turning red
You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-sized bed
And your mother’s telling stories ’bout you on the tee-ball team
You taught me ’bout your past, thinking your future was me
And you were tossing me the car keys, “fuck the patriarchy”
Key chain on the ground, we were always skipping town
And I was thinking on the drive down, any time now
He’s gonna say it’s love, you never called it what it was
‘Til we were dead and gone and buried
Check the pulse and come back swearing it’s the same
After three months in the grave
And then you wondered where it went to as I reached for you
But all I felt was shame and you held my lifeless frame

I was hoping for Taylor to be so overcome with emotion that there were several F bombs. As someone who in the throes of a 6th grade breakup instant messaged “I’m so fuckin sorry” to my weasel of a boyfriend (of two weeks) for how much whining he was doing that I said we should break up so I could play the middle school field, I understand all too well how heartbreak (and guilt) can cause someone to swear like a sailor. Unfortunately, this much hyped explicit content was SUCH a letdown. Making fun of Jake for having a “fuck the patriarchy” keychain is SnOoZeWoRtHy. Come onnnnnnn. Give us some snarky F bombs not a “oOoh you’re a feminist but not really because you treated me like shit” dig. Besides that lamewad keychain, the additional lyrics further paint the picture that in these brief three months, their 9 year age gap was a huge point of contention and Taylor fell HOARD while Jake was more in love with himself than anything else. So right off the bat we get that she was WAY more into it than him and that he was almost ashamed or wanted it to be a secret from his snotty crowd.

And there we are again when nobody had to know / You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath

And then we get to my FAVE new verse. It flows like butta and honestly by like the third rotation of me listening, I was getting annoyed with myself that I hadn’t learned the words yet. Yes that’s right, a 10 minute song that was out for mere hours I was disappointed in not having known every single word of.

[Verse 3]
They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new Hell
Every time you double-cross my mind
You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine
And that made me want to die
The idea you had of me, who was she?
A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you
Not weeping in a party bathroom
Some actress asking me what happened, you
That’s what happened, you
You who charmed my dad with self-effacing jokes
Sipping coffee like you’re on a late-night show
But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come
And he said, “It’s supposed to be fun turning twenty-one”

OH MY GOD WHERE TO BEGIN. How about with that first line “all’s well that ends well but I’m in a new hell” YEAH BABY. THE FLOW. Then going right into the savagery of “that’s what happened, YOU.” Damn, dude. I don’t care how many years have passed, that’s gotta hurt. And then to double down with some good ole fashioned Dad guilt. Hey remember when you charmed my dad but then he watched me sob on my 21st birthday because of your stupid ass. MY DAD HATES YOU NOW. But also, not shocking at all that Tay spent her 21st crying instead of getting trashed. Without a lame 21st birthday…would we have gotten the joyful anthem that is 22?! PROBABLY NOT, so for that Jake, we thank you for your service.

And then if I may be a scooch critical… by adding in the previous verse, we kinda lose the buildup BANG of crumpled piece of paper and you keep my old scarf. The original “All Too Well” CRUSHES at building up to a real scream-fest and I love it a whole lot, but with this sprawling story, there’s really no screaming climax. I miss it. Don’t get me wrong, Verse 3 also hits hard, but it’s a more subtle slow burn. And then we arrive at the completely unnecessary final new verse where I was almost like ok, he’s got a family, let’s pull back here. It seemed a little TOO “wait let me make him feel worse.” If the final verse was cut I don’t think that I’d miss it. Plus the beat completely changes and it’s just weird. It feels to me like it doesn’t fit.

[Verse 5]
And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes
“I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age”
From when your Brooklyn broke my skin and bones
I’m a soldier who’s returning half her weight
And did the twin flame bruise paint you blue?
Just between us, did the love affair maim you, too?
‘Cause in this city’s barren cold
I still remember the first fall of snow
And how it glistened as it fell
I remember it all too well

Like yeah, the pussy posse is always going to slay girls half their age, we’ve all accepted that. Leo’s getting the last laugh at any criticism of his latest young boo thing and I can tell you Jake probably feels the same way. Does it suck that he pointed out your age difference as the reason why things weren’t working then continued to date girls your age? For sure. But it seems a little dramats to compare your heartbreak to a war survivor. I realize I’m one of the most dramatic people on this earth and I’m telling a fellow drama queen to tone it down but it comes from a genuine place. Know when to amp up the drama and when to let it simmer. “That’s what happened, YOU” was a sick burn, no need to then be like YOU BROKE MY BODY AND I WAS AT WAR FROM DATING YOU. It’s too much, girl. Also, the use of the phrase “twin flame” will unfortunately always bring my brain to the two cesspools of tongue that are Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox and that’s not your fault, Tay. Obviously in 2010 you had no clue these two morons would tromp into the spotlight and overshare about their sexual connection. And I’ll be honest it’s not the only zeitgeist buzzword that has made me want to drill a hole in my brain. The term gaslighting, which MANY fans have been using as they break down this song makes me want to take a dive directly off of a cliff. I wish we could do a collective crash course on what the actual definition of this stupid therapy term is because METHINKS that it’s being used incorrectly 90% of the time. If I were to blindly believe the majority of the population these days, every man is a narcissist who gaslights. But that’s a story for another time. From this verse we transition into basically the same lyrics repeated over and over again with this sexy slow jam beat. Going out with a whimper not a bang even though it sounds like we’ve got a little horns section cookin at the end.

WHAT A JOURNEY. From the haunting and melancholy tone of the first piano keys to start to this echo-y sensual sendoff. It is basically a movie playing out in musical form. So much so that Taylor said, you know what? I’m literally going to make it into a movie. Never one to be less than extra, she created this short film to go along with the song. It was fine. If I was missing F bombs in the song they were certainly in no short order in these fight scenes. If you’re so inclined to spend 15 minutes watching a relationship break down as the leaves fall, check it out. Or even if you want to see Taylor as a ginge. (Spoiler alert: fast forward to the end for that.)

Would it have been mind-bending if Jake himself made an appearance at the end rather than just some schmuck named Jake? Yes OBVIOUSLY. But alas, it doesn’t seem like these two could bury the hatchet for the sake of shock value. And realistically, it seems like Jake’s sense of humor is trash so him being in on the joke would be way too much to ask. But after my RAMBLING breakdown of the song Swifties have been patiently waiting for, if you’re not a Tay fan and you just skimmed through this, I will give a 10/10 recommendation to her SNL debut of this song. Just from an artist performance standpoint, she rocked it. The drama and the effects and the emotion as she sang this song were all nailed perfectly and that’s saying a lot from someone who hasn’t watched SNL live in so long that I had to google what time it started. I watched the whole stupid show just for this one performance that I could’ve easily YouTubed the next morning but THAT IS DEDICATION FOLKS and it paid off. I had chills. CHILLS I TELL YOU.

As Colin Jost said immediately following this performance: “The lesson we all learned this week is never break up with Taylor Swift or she will sing about you for ten minutes on national television.” DAS RIGHT, HOMESLICE. Ok but seriously I’m done now for realz. I got what I wanted and now I’m going to play it on loop, learn the words front to back and ruin my best friend’s wedding this weekend by drunkenly performing it at the reception probably using my beer as a fake microphone. Congrats and every happiness to the new couple but…THEY SAY ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL AND I’M IN A NEW HELL EVERY TIME YOU DOUBLE CROSS MY MIIIIINNNNNNNNDDDDDDDD.

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Music

Ed Sheeran – Equals

Well, well, well, if it isn’t the English orangehead loop-stompin monster back after a LENGTHY hiatus with new music. That seems to be the theme lately. I realize not every artist can be Taylor Swift, recording or re-recording a full album each month, but also WHY THE DRY SPELL?! Well, in Ed’s case, it was pretty understandable. Since his last record (Divide, fully reviewed by The Salty Ju upon its release in 2017) Ed has gone cold turkey with the partying, gotten married to a gal named Cherry, and had a baby unfortunately named Lyric Antarctica. So I GUESS he’s been a little busy. We’ll let it slide…for now. This comeback (but don’t call it a comeback) album is titled = or Equals and if you’ve been keeping up with Ed’s discography, is right on par for his math symbols theme. Although, if I may be picky, this seems like a final call if we want to get deep. He’s already released +, x & ÷ and you would THINK the grand finale would be = because that’s typically the end of a math equation. HOWEVER, he still hasn’t used – (minus.) Just some deep thoughts I’m having as I overthink the meaning of math symbols just like Swifties overthink every social caption she’s posted since 2009. Anyway, I’ve done my homework and listened to this album on repeat all weekend long in preparation for this blog. I just know you were all overcome with anticipation for this track by track review because you can’t TRULY enjoy new music until you’ve heard my opinions on it. So without further ado…EQUALS.

  1. Tides*. The very first lyric that Ed sings on his comeback after an off the grid 4 years is “I have grown up, I am a father now.” WHOA. Ok, hot start. He’s setting that damn tone. We’re not going to have any cheeky references to your new douchey boyfriend getting his asshole bleached on Equals, because Ed is a DAD now, guys. It was with this single lyric in the first 5 seconds of listening to this album that I was like oh, fudgsicles. We’re about to get served with 14 songs oozing love and happiness for his new family life. And I have to be completely honest with you, I almost didn’t want to listen. I almost heard this first lyric, rolled down my window driving down 195 and tossed my phone right into the breeze. But I didn’t. Mostly because I’m still paying off that brand new upgraded iPhone, but also because I’m 30 now, guys. I’d like to think I’m mature enough to listen to music about people being blissful in their fairytale life and not want to drive my car off the road because that’s not where my life is. I’ve GROWN. (Quick context: as I’m typing this, I’m hysterically laughing.) But seriously, I’m going to try to listen to this album with an open mind even though I hate when musicians are happier than a pig in shit and therefore only release love songs. (See: Taylor Swift’s Lover which she conveniently released as I was going through a breakup. Thanks for that, TAY.) Ok, so now that I’ve given you that very lengthy preamble, I’ll actually get to the meat of this blog, judging the music. I really like this song. Musically, when he sings the chorus and then jams on those strings to bring it back up again, it makes me want to do a cartwheel. And you know what? I can. Because the message of this song is live your damn life because life is like an ocean, always changing tides, yo!
  2. Shivers. This song was one of the few pre-released singles before we got the whole album. Click here to see my initial thoughts on the music video. As per usual when I first hear a single that’s a little different than what I’m used to from an artist I’m like KILL IT WITH FIRE, and then my hysterics calm down after a few listens. Now that I have the cohesive album, I’m thankful for these club beats to break up all of the I LOVE MY WIFE AND BABY deep cuts. #Grateful for a beat I can drop it down low to and not have to overthink. I’ll be sure to introduce this one to my playlist for the next kitchen dance party with my four year old niece.
  3. First Times. There’s the Ed we know. The classic romantic, introspective love song. If this wasn’t so specific to his achievements in his career, I’d say it’ll be this album’s overused first dance song at weddings. But if I had to venture a guess, no one wants to slow dance to a song about how playing a sold-out crowd at Wembley stadium wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Gawd, Ed. BE MORE UNGRATEFUL. Just kidding, obviously the point of this song is to say that no achievement is worth shit without the love of your life, and every moment with them is the best achievement ever. Or whatevs.
  4. Bad Habits. This was the first single Ed released back in June and I was downright scared. Our first taste of Ed tuneage in several years and he drops this jumpy beat with a creepy vampire music video. Read my kneejerk reaction here. And obviously, remember that I’ve toned it down since then. What a sneaky little B Ed is releasing the only two club jamz from this album to trick people into thinking that was his new sound. Then he drops the whole thing and it’s like GOTCHA! This song is another fun jam to groove to despite the fact that the lyrics are touching upon Ed’s years of going HOARD in the party scene which eventually led to him going stone cold sober. I get it, once you get your moneymaker sliced and diced by a royal sword, it’s time to reconsider if you need to take a beat from drinking…but that doesn’t mean cancel ALL partying! Moderation is key for all bad habits.
  5. Overpass Graffiti*. ALRIGHT now we’re cooking with gas, baby. We’ve got a breakup song. It’s not a sassy tell-off, it’s wistful and sweet full of nostalgia but rather than being a total downer, it’s 80’s MAGIC. I love that he sped up this song and made it snappy. And those background scream-y vocals?! Oh, hell yea. Can’t wait to practice those at full volume in the shower. Plus to finish things out, he does my fave thing singers do where they take away the instrumentals and just sing with an echo effect at the end before the music kicks back in. I tell you, that and a good clap break in a song will get me EVERY damn time.
  6. The Joker And The Queen. I really don’t like this song. I’ve spent all weekend listening to the album in full with no skips and every time this one came on my finger was ITCHING to next it right out of my ears. They can’t all be winners and a dramatically slow piano ballad with an old timey sound and unrelatable lyrics just didn’t hit with me. Total personal preference. Obviously it’s well done–Ed has the voice of an angel, it’s simple with just the piano and the strings and there’s a nice musical interlude that might be fit for a 1940’s black and white picture but sorry I’m uncultured swine and I just can’t get down with it.
  7. Leave Your Life. I love the beat of this but natch the lyrics don’t resonate so much with me because I don’t have a popstar dad who goes on international tours. Ed wrote this song as a letter to his daughter in case anything ever happens to him. I used to go on and on about how I was my dad’s little mistake and that he was probably out playing a gig with his band Zipper at the Rusty Nail when I was born and couldn’t be bothered to come to the hospital. So I guess it’s kinda the same thing. Except my dad never wrote a song for me, he just wrote a bunch of songs about presidents, books and God. Your move, DEN. Also out of all of these songs, this is the only one that’s consistently been stuck in my head all weekend so it’s definitely got sticking power.
  8. Collide. How appropriate that after his love letter to his daughter, he writes a love letter to his wifey. This is basically a laundry list of all their memories as a couple. It’s like when you sign someone’s yearbook and write a bunch of inside jokes. And honestly that’s kind of the theme for this album. I understand Ed is an artist and he wants to release songs that he’s proud of and all, but there’s at least three songs on this album that I can think of that could’ve just been recorded for his family and shared privately. It’s romantic as hell to release public love songs that are very obviously for one specific person, but that person is not me and therefore I’m bitter as hell about having to listen to it. Whoops, guess I haven’t matured. The effort was there, I promise. But also, no one cares that you two have been to an Irish bar in Rome.
  9. 2step. Fun fact, I got firsthand two-step lessons from a Texas girl in a Boston bar while I was schnackered. I’m sure it was a real sight for sore eyes to see a bar with 5 people in it and 2 of them are two-steppin to whatever bro country song was playing. Haven’t 2stepped since then. In fact, gun to my head I wouldn’t be able to remember how to do it. The Jersey turnpike is the only dance move that’s stuck with me. #sorrynotsorry This song is a nice lil groove about how dancing makes all your troubles go away, which I wholeheartedly support. It’s also OG Ed with the double time singing/almost rapping and oh boy is it good to have him back.
  10. Stop The Rain*. What a cuppa positivi-TEA. See what I did there? Punny AND British. Also, just facts. This is a great anthem and I love it a lot. Plus it has CLAPS! The rain gonn’ come baybay, but just pop open that umbrella and keep on chuggin YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAAHHHHHHHH.
  11. Love In Slow Motion. Alright, back to his lady. This is obviously a nice slow jam for all the married couples who have kids or busy lives and don’t take the time to do date night or focus on each other. Take your time away from those runny-nosed puke monsters and talk to your sig oth and remember why you fell in love with each other and decided to create those runny-nosed puke monsters to begin with. Or whatever. I dunno. I’m running out of steam here, folks. I had the open mind to start and then slowly but surely it started to close as each sappy love song started playing. We’re reaching the end of our rope here.
  12. Visiting Hours*. Oh, great! I just admit I’m reaching the end of my rope and then we throw in a death song! READ THE ROOM, ED. Anyway, get ready to sob your damn face off to this song. It’s about wishing you could visit those you’ve lost and update them on your life and let me tell you, it’s beautiful and depressing all at once. Written for his friend who passed suddenly and sung at his memorial service, there will never be a dry eye in the house when this song is playing, I can assure you that. And not for nothing, but the composition of the song, using backup vocals in certain parts, the horns section and you guessed it, my favorite break for vocals only with no instrumentals at the end, CHEF’S KISS.
  13. Sandman. Remember when I was like hey maybe some of these songs didn’t need to be on a public-facing album that people spend money on? DING DING DING DING. I’ll take “A lullaby for your infant daughter” for 500 please, Alex. AUTOMATIC SKIP without even a second thought. I don’t have children so maybe those Ed fans who are parents will appreciate him including this but I sure do not. I didn’t think I was listening to Raffi’s greatest hits and therefore when this hit my eardrums I had to do a double take and be like did Spotify pull a fast one on me? Appreciate the calming island vibes but I’m lulled to sleep the normal adult way, to the sounds of a sitcom I’ve seen 9 zillion times. Shout out to the zesty way he sings “shake of a lamb’s tail” though. I’ll give him that.
  14. Be Right Now. Alright, we’ve made it to the end and the message as it has been on every other song so far, is LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. This closer is about living in the moment and it’s a got quite a club beat but is also oddly soothing. A conundrum of a song to ease us on down the road. It’s a breezy palate cleanser to leave you twirling away from this chapter of Ed’s life. Also, I originally bitched about how long he’s gone without putting out music and then as I was diving into each track, I learned that he started working on this album in 2017 so my apologies for being a greedy dirtbag, apparently works of art can take time. Another note I’d like to make, the last track and the first track flow SEAMLESSLY together. A couple times I wasn’t paying attention and this song ended and Tides began and it felt like just a continuation of this tune. So well done for all your repeat listeners, Ed (whether you intended it or not) we’ve got two great bookends to this story!

Overall Notes: I mean not to beat a dead horse here but obviously this album is REAL specific to the place Ed is in currently and therefore lacked a lot of relatability for me. And again, not just because I’m a single bitter loser, but also because each song had SUCH detailed accounts of memories or things that have happened in his life. Certainly much more of a diary entry album than songwriting and music that we can all apply to our lives, which is how people typically connect with songs. It’s not a bad album by any means and it has a great and uplifting theme overall, but it’ll be lower on the list in my personal rankings, which are as follows: 1. Divide 2. Multiply 3. Plus 4. Equals. And remember that these criticisms come from someone who has never written a song, lacks all musical talents and just has a lot of strong opinions SOLELY based on her own worldview. So, if you loved this album and it made you feel like you were floating on air, more power to ya-take my sass with a grain of salt and a shake of a lamb’s tail.

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Music

taylor swift – evermore.

Taylor Alison Swift looked 2020 directly in the eye and said I’m going to make you my bitch. Musically speaking, of course. She kicked things off with folklore in August, surprising us all with a real woodsy vibe and easily her best songwriting to date. Then she puts out a live performance on Disney + in a recording studio that is like an hour away from me and I’m mad as hell she didn’t notify me of her vicinity. And here we are, closing out 2020 with evermore because she “just couldn’t stop writing songs.” She calls it a birthday gift to us as she turns 31 but really the gift is that she rolled out back to back sadgirl albums in the WORST year of my life. I feel SEEN. Let’s dive in.

1. willow. I was very heated about the music video for this song. Mostly because Taylor typically adopts a specific look for each album era and the one she has chosen for this one is unfortunately bangs. Curls and bangs don’t go together. They just don’t. And now we’ve extended this era for double the time and WE MAY NEVER KNOW WHEN THE FLUFFY BANGS WILL GO AWAY. Plus she added pilgrim fashion on top of that for the video and it’s a statement I wasn’t in love with. HOWEVER, without the visual, I could focus much harder and this is definitely one of my favorite songs off this album. folklore had a kickass start with the 1 and now evermore has a solid opener with this enchanting ditty. Also I would be remiss to not include that one of her psycho fans went back in time to the “mean” era and found the word willow in the music video so apparently Taylor was calling her shot back in 2010, while wearing the same table linens your grandma uses on special occasions.

best lyric: But I come back stronger than a ’90s trend (she’s speaking directly to me with this.)

2. champagne problems. The start of this song is giving me MAJOR New Year’s Day vibes and I LOVE it. The simple piano and vocals together, I literally had to double check I was listening to the right album the first time it started playing. Except rather than singing about true love lasting long after the party’s over, this one is about true love being set ablaze. A rejected proposal, YOOOOIIIIIKES. Despite the fact that this starts out SUUUUUPER depressing and you feel for this imaginary character who proposes to a girl whose like nah, I’m good…when she changes tune with “one for the money, two for the show, I never was ready so I watch you go,” it’s catchy as hell and THEN we get a GLORIOUS F bomb. Taylor finally put on her big girl pants on folklore and gave us all the curses. It was like the girl in college who was sheltered in high school and never tried drinking then does a kegstand and blacks out at her first frat party. Once the floodgates opened after all these years being PG, Taylor was screaming F bombs from the rooftop and I’m beaming with pride to see that she’s still letting them fly. She’s 31 now. SHE’S ALL GROWN UP. Brings a tear to my eye. Plus, it’s cathartic AF to really hit home on a well-placed swear in these magical tunes.

best lyric: She would’ve made such a lovely bride / What a shame she’s fucked in the head,” they said (I don’t know how Taylor knew what everyone was saying about me but same.)

3. gold rush. Right away you can tell this is a Jack Antonoff song with the beat and the breathy wonder to it. My head was already bopping away and then she hits the speed round with “with your hair falling into place like dominoes.” Wooooo girl. Assumptions are that this is a Joe song because she’s constantly using gold in songs about him and also she thinks everyone’s obsessed with him and trying to steal him but I’m not really sure why. How these two aren’t married yet is the real surprise of 2020. Waiting for that news to drop, surprise style of course.

best lyric: My mind turns your life into folklore / I can’t dare to dream about you anymore

4. ’tis the damn season. It took me roughly 24 hours to abuse the shit out of this phrase. It’s not my fault it’s timely as hell and also sassy. I’ve already used it as an instagram caption and said it to several people. IN fact, I’m actually a little peeved I already sent out my Christmas cards this year because I would’ve 100% used it there too, it really would’ve fit my whole drinking wine solo in front of my Christmas tree mood that I forced into everyone’s homes. On top of just loving this title, the fact that she’s using it to justify hooking up with your ex/hometown love at the holidays makes it SUH much better. It’s like a Hallmark movie but without the lame kiss and happy ending. It’s for bad gurlz who just wanna bang their high school sweetheart on holiday break and wonder what it would be like to stay there and play out the Hally fantasy. No one ever does though because those movies are trash and don’t show what happens AFTER the city girl gives up her corporate job to pop out kids with the hometown guy who drives his truck around the 150 person town. Shot in the dark here, but I’m guessing that story ends in divorce 99% of the time. WOmpP WoooMppppp. Better off getting the nostalgia bang and then skidaddling back to your life in the big city if you ask me.

best lyric: And the heart I know I’m breakin’ is my own / To leave the warmest bed I’ve ever known (damn that one hit hard.)

5. tolerate it. In Swiftie dramatic fashion, there’s special meaning to the 5th track on each of her albums. It pretty much started with All Too Well because of the vulnerability and storytelling and from then on, Taylor made a point to put her most soul-baring songs as track fives. Or, in this case, soul-crushing failed relationship songs. This is a fun ditty about being more in love with someone than they are with you. Just kidding there’s nothing fun about it at all. Unless, like me, you laugh out loud at what a creep she is at the beginning of the song. There’s no non-creepy spin on “I sit and watch you.” It’s right in line with OG Taylor “so I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep.” I get the sentiment. You love someone, you gaze at them a lot. But alllsoooooo hard not to have some peeping tom qualities to it. Let’s take a beat and put our binocs away on that one.

best lyric: I made you my temple, my mural, my sky / Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life

6. no body, no crime (feat HAIM). This was a real spicy add to all these heartbreaking tales and I welcomed it with open arms and also took some notes. (Never know when you’re gonna need to know how to off a cheater and cover your tracks, yanno?!) Right off the bat I was like ooh baby we’ve got some big Pistol Annies Hell on Heels energy comin thru here. Don’t underestimate us ladies cause we will ERASE YOU FROM THIS PLANET. Jus sayin. You think it’s a coincidence that chicks love true crime? We’re storing all that info away in case we need it one day. Taylor and the Haim sisters may have just been kidding with this song, but I don’t for a second doubt that Taylor could get away with murder in real life. No body, no crime, man. Think about THAT next time you’re f’ing with Taylor’s life, Scooter.

best lyric: Good thing my daddy made me get a boating license when I was fifteen / And I’ve cleaned enough houses to know how to cover up a scene

7. happiness. Leave it to this tricky B to name a song happiness and have it be THE OPPOSITE of happiness. The conundrums are just never ending. During the Disney + special, Taylor talked about My Tears Ricochet and how she became fascinated with writing about divorce and this idea that the person who knows you best is now your enemy and therefore knows exactly how to attack your insecurities and tear you down. She compared it to how she felt with the Scooter/Scott Borchetta drama but also it’s clear she’s still very into this deep dive on the big D. Speaking of the Big D, leave it to me to hear this lyric: “And I pulled your body into mine / Every goddamn night, now I get fake niceties” and IMMEDIATELY assume she’s making a sex reference. Cause that’s how my brain works. Now that I re-read it, she probably just meant cuddling and here I am going right for the penetration comparisons. I guess I was just hoping in addition to all the swears, she might start dropping artfully crafted sexual innuendos as well. Either way, lyrics about getting D’ed down or not, this song is haunting as shit.

best lyric: But now my eyes leak acid rain on the pillow where you used to lay your head / After giving you the best I had / Tell me what to give after that (this entire song is a best lyric, but if I had to pick one…)

8. dorothea. I gotta be real with you guys, this song starts a little bit of a downward slump for me on the second half of this album. There’s a couple snoozy songs back to back in the middle before it picks back up again and I had a hard time staying into it. Right away with this one, we’re using a very old lady name and it’s not really a compelling storyline. It’s about a friend lost, and if you ask the psychos who analyze EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, they’ll tell you it’s about Selena Gomez. I read exactly one article to see where they’re getting this assumption from and it is VERY far fetched. Selena’s favorite movie is Wizard of Oz, and she doesn’t care about fame and she has a beauty line now. OPE, this song MUST be about her! God I’d love to live in a hardcore Swiftie’s mind for the first 12 hours of an album release. Whether this song is about Selena or not, it’s kinda meh.

best lyric: And if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know / You know, you’ll always know me, Dorothea

9. coney island (feat. The National). After drooling her face off about The National so much and writing Folklore with Aaron Dessner, Taylor finally got her long-awaited emo collab. Had a hard time connecting with this one, and not just because the coney (a white spicy hot dog for all you uneducated wieners) gives me diarrhea. JK, I know they’re talking about the trashy pier amusement park south of NYC. I think at one point in life, Coney Island was the belle of the ball. But from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty gross now. I wasn’t kidding about Hoffmann’s coney’s though, those dogs pack a punch. Only try one if you’re near a bathroom. These are the things I yap about when I don’t know what to say about a song because it’s just doesn’t knock my socks off. You’re welcome.

best lyric: If I can’t relate to you anymore / Then who am I related to? (love a good wordplay)

10. ivy. It’s important to note that not only is Taylor free flowing with the F bombz now, but clearly has also taken an affinity to G-D as well. I shorten G-D because it is the one swear that my dad does not tolerate, and he is one of my few loyal readers so I try not to T him off. Although, he did just send me a text to brag about how they were playing Friday Night Lights on TV this weekend knowing that I don’t have cable. So who is the real troutsniffer here?

Anyway, other than my dad taunting me with that babe soda Coach Taylor, this song picks things back up a bit. It makes me want to skip through a field but not in an outfit you would wear to a one room schoolhouse (jk I pull that shit OFF-see below.) Also noteworthy: another song about an affair. SCANDALOUS.

best lyric: My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand

11. cowboy like me. I knew the first time I heard this song that it was going to be my insta-skip for this album. There’s one every time. A weird song that I don’t vibe with and I immediately want to get it out of my earholes. Last album was epiphany, before that it was nice to have a friend on Lover. This song is like sad 90’s country and honestly it just draaagggsss. Bonus points for another hard F though. GET IT, GURL. EARN that parental advisory.

best lyric: Forever is the sweetest con (daaaaaamn that has some stank on it.)

12. long story short. This was a much needed bopsicle after the cowboy ballad that preceded. Got some 80’s feels to it but I literally would’ve accepted anything to wake me from that heartbreak slumber. Even though this one is also about WAIT FOR IT a breakup. Or at least, a romantic history. Bad times and wrong guys, tale as old as time. Some say this is about Tom Hiddleston, and to that I say buuuuulllllshit. I still believe ole Tommy boy was a publicity stunt and she never actually dated him. WAY too many photographs in such a short period of time. That paparazzi snap of him in the ocean at her 4th of July bonanza wearing an I ❤ TS shirt still lives rent-free in my mind to this day. And also makes me cringe. A wifebeater in the ocean, woof.com. Long story short: Tom Hiddleston was a decoy. Convince me otherwise, I dare you.

best lyric: Your nemeses / Will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing

13. marjorie. Another toss to the family lineage, Epiphany was about her grandfather’s military experience (also track thirteen on folklore) and Marjorie was her grandma’s name. So obviously her grandma visited her from beyond the grave and was like what am I? CHOPPED LIVER?! And Taylor was like I HAVE TO PUT OUT A SISTER ALBUM FOR GRAMS. Facts. It took me until looking up the lyrics to see that she was saying “what died didn’t stay dead” and not using a weird accent with WHAT I DIDN’T SAY IS. This song is fine. Like I said, I felt like things really went downhill after happiness (for me.) Kinda sounds like her grandma is haunting her and as someone who learned that spirits visit us at certain hours of the night and have been terrified of a post-grave visit ever since, I’m out on ghosts.

best lyric: Never be so politе You forget your power / Nevеr wield such power You forget to be polite (solid advice, Grams)

14. closure. Sassy Tay comin in hawt at the end PLUS a little backbeat to soundtrack this metaphorical FU. Take your letter and shove it up your b-hole cause Taylor don’t need your stinkin’ closure. Since we’re on the topic, closure is crap. No one will ever have closure. It’s one of those made up things we use as an excuse to see someone we fell out with and then you realize that no matter what they say or do, and no matter what you say or do, it doesn’t change things. Thus, CRAAAAAP. You’ll never feel settled about something ending in a way you didn’t want it to end, you’ll just have to get the hell over it. And that’s talkin’ closure from the most bitter ass bitch in the room. Thank you for reading because I feel SO MUCH BETTER NOW having said my peace. Nahhhhhhhht.

best lyric: I know I’m just a wrinkle in your new life / Staying friends would iron it out so nice

15. evermore (feat. Bon Iver). I guess I’m like a whole ass Bon Iver stan now because Exhile slaps and so does this. I’m really getting in touch with haunting piano and whiny vocals in my later years in life. If you ask me, that’s basically this past year in a nutshell so it’s not surprising that I’m getting my depression vibes on with these jams. Starting out with “Gray November, I’ve been down since July” really solidified that as well for me. If you know, we could sub out “July” and tap in “January” in its place. Cause yes November is grey and yes I’ve been down and out since January and probably will be EVERMORE. Another word no one will be able to stop me from using and abusing going forward. Saying something lasts forever? That’s so 2019 back when we had things to look forward to in life. Nah, now it’s EVERMORE. Soooo much more melodramatic. Can’t wait to drop it in everyone’s grillpiece. THIS PAIN WILL BE FOR EVERMORE.

best lyric: I rewind thе tape but all it does is pause / On thе very moment, all was lost

OVERALL album notes: Listen, you come to The Salty Ju, you’re gonna get brutal honesty. I’m a superfan (not a ‘read into signs and guess that Taylor is hiding the fact that she gave birth to triplets based on an obscure tree branch in the background of cover art’ kind of superfan) and yet I can also tell it like it is with Tay. Folklore was kind of a storytelling phenomenon for her. She’s always been a bitchin’ lyricist using highfalutin vocabulary, synesthesia (see? I know big words too), and in-depth imagery. Folklore brought that to the next level because it was no longer about what music will tour well or play on the radio, it was just about writing good shit that tells a compelling story. It seemed like she was trying the least to make a statement and yet all of those songs made a statement. And that’s why I love her. HOWEVER, I feel like there’s a reason artists pick a limited amount of songs to release on an album. If they released every song they ever wrote, we’d be real inundated with a lot of songs that were just ok and maybe there’s a reason they wouldn’t make the cut. And that’s how I feel about evermore. Are there some more great songs on here? Absolutely. But is there a lot of eh? Also yes. I love crying my face off to a breakup song as much as the next sad B, but it comes to a point after several hours of the sobsies that you have to mix a real uplifting bop in or you’ll be on suicide watch. And 32 slow songs about death, loss, divorce, addiction, love triangles, witches, women-haters can seem A WEE BIT OVERWHELMING. Which leads me to my next point: everyone is CONVINCED there’s a third “sister” album coming. Taylor loves a trilogy and there have been little clues here and there that this is actually going to be a three album story and to that I say

I truly can’t take anymore. I know I said before that I feel seen but maybe I feel a LITTLE TOO SEEN. I never thought I’d see the day when I want LESS sad music to smother me this year, but I think this era can comfortably end here. Let’s pep it up for 2021 and pretend things are getting better. So there you have it. evermore can’t top folklore–although I do appreciate it showing up to the party– and “woodvale” should sit this one out. Now excuse me while I continue to drown myself in lowercase letters, while my eyes leak acid rain, as I use these poetic lyrics to describe my own feelings in therapy until the new year. (My therapist will be a Swiftie by the time I’m through with her.)

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