Just in time for this sad Thanksgiving weekend, Taylor Swift will be releasing a concert, of sorts. Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions will premiere on Disney+ on Tuesday at midnight Pacific time.
The announcement is very Swiftian. On Sunday, she teased the fact that something would be happening on her Instagram, with a photo of her in a cabin captioned, “not a lot going on at the moment.” (Everything in Swift World is a clue). When she tweeted the trailer Tuesday, she made a reference to 13—another in-reference for fans, as it’s her birthday, favorite number, and a coy reference to unluckiness—despite the fact that the number 13 appears nowhere in the actual numbers involved in the release date (or time) of this film. It’s shot at her collaborator Aaron Dessner’s Hudson Valley retreat, where she appears to have bubbled with Dessner and Jack Antonoff to make this thing (lotta bubbling going on for Swift), which, with its wood-paneling and strings of fairy lights, presents the same modest-but-highly-considered aesthetic as the sepia-toned visual rollout of the Folklore album itself.
Swift’s overthought marketing plans have long tasted like the cheese powder on Doritos to me. I can tell that it’s engineered by experts to light up all the right receptors in my brain. But also, like eating cheese powder, it feels great. Swift album rollouts have increasingly centered around a giant, easy theme—revenge, love, red (as in the color)—and this time, by God, the theme is quarantine. “There’s something about the complete and total uncertainty of life,” she says in the trailer, before explaining that she and her collaborators made this album in physical isolation from one another. So relatable. Sort of.
The three of them, now carefully united, toast on a patio, the way you might this weekend with your pandemic pod. They sing songs in the studio that bear a much more stripped down aesthetic compared with Swift’s earlier work (I do not know anything technical about music and this is legible even to me). She explains that “this album was a real flotation device,” giving her something to keep her from losing her mind. She must know it was a floatation device for fans, too. Giving us all this film—calling it a film is also so Swiftian—now, as coronavirus cases across America surge, and we are all staying home, very stressed, might be a little calculated. But it’s also a kindness.