Lyndsey McKenna

Taylor Swift isn't the only artist recording at breakneck speed these days. Today Sturgill Simpson has announced Cuttin' Grass, Vol. 2: The Cowboy Arms Sessions, his second surprise album in as many months.

There's more where folklore came from. After the surprise release of her eighth studio album in July, Taylor Swift again announced a new record on short notice – in this case, evermore, on the eve of its Dec. 11 midnight release.

In mid-March, just after the country shut down, Bartees Strange, aka Bartees Cox Jr., released Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy, an EP of re-imagined songs originally by The National. For him, it was a project of both appreciation and interrogation; it was inspired in part by seeing the band in D.C. in 2019 and noticing how few other Black faces he saw in the crowd.

When your breakthrough record is a post-sobriety look back, where do you go next? There's certainly no shortage of recorded music that covers the "before." Sometimes there's a clear line-in-the-sand in an artist's catalog; other times, there's no obvious intervention, no discernible divide. Nashville singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly's answer, Shape & Destroy, is more refinement than reinvention; a statement of purpose, it offers a path forward in which the process of recovery continues with resolve.

Taylor Swift was supposed to spend this summer touring songs from Lover, the album she put out last August. Instead, like many of us, she wound up cooped up at home. The isolation seems to have sparked her creativity, leading her to write and record an entirely new record in collaboration with producers Jack Antonoff and The National's Aaron Dessner.

No, Taylor Swift did not spend her quarantine nurturing her sourdough starter or tie-dying old sweaters. Nor did she use the period to re-record her catalog as promised last year after a label dispute.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Lyndsey McKenna
Where: Washington, D.C.
Recommendation: Running

Do you remember the way you reacted when you first witnessed Kendall Roy's rap tribute to his father, Logan Roy, on the second season of HBO's Succession? Were you like younger brother Roman, in denial of what you were seeing, or more of a Shiv, laughing along? Or a Cousin Greg, tentatively taking it all in?

Like many who have graced the Tiny Desk before him, the awkwardness of performing in a working office wasn't lost on Harry Styles. "It just feels like you're in the way," he joked. But when you watch his set from behind Bob Boilen's desk, you'd never suspect any discomfort.

Taylor Swift, Man

Feb 27, 2020

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The Taylor Swift vs.

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