Folklore is a window into the obscure, whimsical corners of Taylor Swift's mind.

The pandemic has had, no doubt, a massive effect on our psyches. Without all the busyness of our previous pre-COVID lives, the gift of time has suddenly been dumped into our laps, allowing us time to think, to dig into our imaginations, to blow out the cobwebs lingering in the far corners in our minds. And Taylor Swift is no different.

Folklore, Swift's brand-new surprise album, is quarantine-born, offering us a window into the obscure corners of her mind and all the other stories she's always wanted to tell—amid the louder, angstier, anthem-worthy passions that have tended to take up more space in her life (i.e., relationships and breakups, or her fight against misogyny).

Now that she's getting older and maturing and has seemingly settled down into a reportedly-happy relationship (not to mention the screeching halt to her busy schedule due to extenuating world circumstances), Swift was able to take time to explore those other quieter stories whirling around in her head.

Pretty mellow overall, Folklore features breathier vocals from Swift and an almost delicate, ethereal, feminine vibe—maybe even whimsical.

Lyrics dig deep, though, painting pictures and ushering in emotion reminiscent of her earlier songs. Her use of colors to describe emotion and also to evoke imagery is nothing less than beautiful—specifically in "invisible string," which might be one of my favorite tracks. Many people are saying—from the look of her album cover art to the woodsy lyrical choices—that she's moved into a "cottagecore" feel (which I had personally never heard of before today—and, omg, love).

“There’s a collection of three songs I refer to as The Teenage Love Triangle,” Swift reportedly revealed in a livestream. “These three songs explore a love triangle from all three people’s perspectives at different times in their lives.”

Since Swift didn't reveal which three songs made up the collection, social media users weighed in with opinions, with the eventual consensus being "cardigan" (Betty's point of view), "august" (Inez's point of view), and "betty" (James' point of view).

Watch the "cardigan" music video here:

Featuring fellow Grammy Award winner Bon Iver, "exile" is deep, earthy, and perfectly harmonious. It's the embodiment of Swift's collaboration with so many talented musicians on this album. 

Another interesting track is "the last great american dynasty," which tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, the Standard Oil heir's widow, whose coastal Rhode Island home now belongs to Swift.

Um ... Writing about your historic beach house's previous owner and adding a few imaginative details of your own? That would be the creative work of someone in isolation, who's finally allowed the time to take those fleeting musings and unaddressed ghosts from the past and spin them into new life. All of Folklore seems to be this—a sweeping through Swift's quieted brain, where bits of ribbon and thread and yarn (a la cottagecore) were collected and then masterfully knit together into refreshing, calming, introspective art.

I'm betting that, for Taylor, creating Folklore was truly cathartic.

It's available on all platforms now.

Have you listened to Folklore yet? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments!