Music

Taylor Swift Producer Aaron Dessner Says ‘Tortured Poets Department’ Is ‘Most Lyrically Acute, Intricate, Vulnerable’ Taylor Ever

Taylor Swift had a number of surprises in store for fans when she dropped her anticipated 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, on Friday (April 19). Among them the late night bombshell that it is actually a double album, coming in at a heft 31 tracks over two hours.

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But it was frequent collaborator Aaron Dessner of The National who provided one of the biggest reveals about the roiling, emotional collection in an Instagram post just hours after the album dropped. “I’m so excited and honored to share that I have contributed to my dear friend and collaborator @taylorswift‘s brilliant 11th album — a 31 song double album / anthology called The Tortured Poets Department,” he wrote in the post that also featured a snap of a smiling Swift in the studio and images of the album’s moody black and white cover.

Dessner revealed that he and Swift began working on the songs back in 2022, after they dropped their two 2020 pandemic albums, Folklore and Evermore, and seemingly after she recorded her 2022 album Midnights. “We started working on these songs over two years ago and it feels like they have kept us company and evolved in beautiful and unexpected ways through so much life lived during this process,” Dessner wrote, marveling at the fact that the duo have now recorded more than 60 songs together over the past four years, including 17 on the new album.

“I am forever grateful to Taylor for sharing her insane talents with and trusting me with her music. I believe these songs are some of the most lyrically acute, intricate, vulnerable and cathartic Taylor has ever written and I am continually astonished by her skills as a songwriter and performer,” he wrote. Dessner also thanked another one of Swift’s most stalwart collaborators, Jack Antonoff, giving him kudos for his “open hearted and open door collaboration with me through all these many projects”; Dessner and Antonoff roughly split co-producing duties with Swift on the album.

The multi-talented songwriter/producer/composer also thanked his twin brother and fellow National bandmember, Aaron Dessner, engineers Laura Sisk, Jonathan Low, James McAlister, Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman) and Bella Blasko and musicians Glenn Kotche (Wilco drummer), Benjamin Lanz (synths, trombone) and Rob Moose (viola, violin), among many others.

“It’s not lost on me how lucky I am that this is my job and I feel so grateful to be a part of creating this vast, magically detailed and symbolic world of songs Taylor has crafted that we all get to inhabit and enjoy,” Dessner wrote. “Keep searching and you’ll find some new detail, layer or sliver of meaning with each listen.”

Check out Dessner’s post below.

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