Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions

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Copyright: Disney+

There’s a real argument to make against the existence of Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. An album should convey its messages on the tracks, all the best songs manage to do so. To make a documentary that looks to dissect the songs just in case someone missed the memo or message, seems a tad redundant. Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions thankfully moves away from any such conventions, instead bringing us Taylor Swift’s intimate, acoustic performed Folklore album, played from start to finish with intercut moments of reflection and reasoning. Taking place some months after the initial conception of the album, this documentary details the first live performance of Folklore.

Folkore: The Long Pond Studio is a documentary in the same vein as Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You. As intimate as Springsteen’s emotive charms, but Swift’s documentary has a much clearer narrative. A contemporary piece that talks of lockdown and the adaptations these artists had to make is relatively interesting, but it’s a documentary only as good as the album it documents. Folklore is a fine album, considering I’m not the biggest Swiftie (I think that’s the term) I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Brief pockets of conversation littered throughout explaining what inspired Swift to write and perform each song, the pacing flows rather well with these little breaks between the Long Pond Studio performances. 

As it turns out, the inspiration behind most songs boils down to “lockdown” or “love”. Either those two topics or sweeping statements on topics Swift seemingly has minimal experience with. Not exactly the biggest surprise of the year, I’m sure you’ll agree, but it does steal away some positives of the album. Folklore as an album was a laid-back, stripped-down approach to recording, with its acoustics ringing through with such passion. To find out that it’s more an exercise in moving away from pop music than a wholly engaged album spread across several common topics is a sad shame.  

Another documentary that encapsulates the sudden productivity musicians are having whilst locked down and unable to tour. Their innovation knows no bounds, from concerts in caves to albums whose message is one of hope and frustration. There’s a whole spectrum for this innovation, and Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions is another such piece. A far superior documentary to that of Miss Americana, mainly due to subject matter and stylish choices. Rather straightforward, still, and its enjoyment will be based almost entirely on how you connect with the songs Swift and company put out. They’re serviceable and so is this documentary.