When Taylor Swift comes calling, it’s hard to say no, which might explain why the pop superstar appears to have taken a hard left into the land of indie/folk rock with the list of collaborators on her upcoming surprise eighth album, Folklore.
The 16-track effort recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown was announced on Thursday (July 23), and will be in Swifties’ ears by midnight in the quickest album release turnaround in the singer’s career.
One of the most surprising bits of news was that, after working with mostly mainstream pop and country producers for much of her career, Swift collaborated on 11 of the album’s 16 tracks with The National‘s Aaron Dessner. The songwriter/producer and multi-instrumentalist of the beloved Cincinnati-bred band has worked with acts such as Lisa Hannigan, Frightened Rabbit, Local Natives and Sharon Van Etten in the past. But given his main band’s dark, knotty vibe, his deep dive with Swift was as unexpected as the album’s rapid-fire release.
That’s why it was no surprise Dessner was elated to reveal his part in crafting this top-secret project, as were some of the other musicians who participated in the sessions. Check out what they had to say about getting drawn into Swift’s orbit.
“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.”
Bryce Dessner, arranger
“Very happy to have orchestrated a bunch of songs on this amazing new album.”
We are incredibly proud of the collaborative work @taylorswift13 & @aaron_dessner have created together on her new album ‘folklore’, with orchestrations from @bryce_dessner. We can’t wait for you to hear it! https://t.co/EF2fWoe6jC
— The National (@TheNational) July 23, 2020
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon
“Very very honored to be a part of @taylorswift13’s album ‘Folklore’.”
Very very honored to be a part of @taylorswift13’s album ‘Folklore’. Shout out to @aaron_dessner for always being the great connector! Listen to “Exile” and the full album; available now everywhere. pic.twitter.com/WZlTXMDTj2
— Bon Iver (@boniver) July 24, 2020
Jon Low, engineer
“It’s hard to believe what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time especially working completely remotely. Even in extreme isolation this dream crew couldn’t have been more trusting and inspiring the entire way.”
Dave Nelson, producer/horn player
“Big congrats to Aaron and the team! So honored to be a part of it.”
Jason Treuting, percussionist
“This was very fun to be a part of. Thanks for bringing me in the mix @aarondessner.”
Josh Kaufman, guitarist
“In between domestic quarantine tasks I managed to play some guitars and harmonica on @taylorswift new album, Folklore! I’m SO proud of my old friend @aarondessner and grateful for his continued support and creativity.”
Rob Moose, violinist/string arranger
“Feeling very lucky to have been a part of this album, Folklore. I arranged and recorded the strings on ‘Hoax,’ and part of ‘The Last Great American Dynasty,’ a song I have not been able to get out of my head since.”