A theologian’s unexpected praise of Swift’s ‘Evermore’

Taylor Swift’s surprise album is a work that captures a moment in time.
Arts & Culture


Taylor Swift (Republic Records, 2020)

I did not want to write this review. The reason is simple: Other than her work ethic and productivity, I have found little to admire in Taylor Swift’s career—especially as she evolved into pop superstardom.

Then, as the new year approached, my wife added new music to my playlist: “Ivy,” “Champagne Problems,” and “Evermore.” I was impressed by the songcraft, the storytelling, and the introspective beauty of the soundscape. Who was this talented musician?

When I found out the songs were performed by Swift, I wasn’t just surprised. I was bewildered. How could these mature stories of desire, anger, longing, and introspection have sprung from the same source as the cloying superficiality of “Blank Space” and “ME!”? What I found here indeed was not like the others.

I moved on to “‘Tis the Damn Season,” “Dorothea,” and “Tolerate It”—all mature stories of loneliness, jealousy, and regret. Then I heard the gems “Marjorie” (reflecting upon her late grandmother), “Coney Island” (a solid duet with Aaron Dessner of The National), and “Happiness” (her synth self-reflection that “I haven’t met the new me yet”).

The nuances in her voice and her inflection of each syllable created narratives that held what theologian David Tracy called a “surplus of meaning.”


After months of listening, I kept returning to the title track. Somehow in the layering of only voice and piano—along with an assist from Justin Vernon of Bon Iver in falsetto mode—Swift created something extraordinary: a work that captures a moment in time.

“Evermore” somehow contains the wide array of pandemic experiences: isolation, loss, frustration, helplessness, anger, exasperation, and, in the end, quiet resilience. That is no small thing.

Swift already is rich and famous. She needs no praise from a theologian. But now she has it. I will be listening.

This article also appears in the July 2021 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 86, No. 7, page 38). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Melodies1917 [CC BY-SA 4.0]


About the author

Kevin P. Considine

Kevin P. Considine is the director of the Robert J. Schreiter Institute for Precious Blood Spirituality and adjunct assistant professor in systematic theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

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