Critics’ Corner: Music Review

Long Pond Studio Sessions – Taylor Swift’s Virtual Concert


Graphic by Rivy

Lila Caminiti, Features Editor, Senior

In 2020, it goes without saying that most of us are missing the usual concert experience, an experience which has been made impossible by the pandemic. However, many artists have combatted this unfortunate circumstance through the creation of virtual concerts. At midnight on November 23, Taylor Swift dropped a concert film for her Folklore album titled “The Long Pond Studio Sessions.” The movie, which was recorded at the Long Pond Studio in Upstate New York, allowed Taylor and her production partners, Jack Antonoff, Justin Vernon, and Aaron Dessner, to meet in person to perform the songs of Folklore, which was recorded remotely via phone calls and text messages. The film was released exclusively on Disney Plus. The music of the film was beautiful, and although the added commentary of Swift and her collaborators felt prolonged at times, “The Long Pond Studio Sessions” provided an enjoyable and intimate concert experience.

The film opened with an aerial shot of the Hudson Valley, where Long Pond Studios are located. Immediately, the natural beauty of the area plays a large role in the film, as they create a beautiful and calming backdrop that perfectly matches the aesthetic of Folklore. Swift described Folklore as an album about finding peace in isolation, and the beautiful and remote Hudson Valley is the epitome of this central idea. 

Following some scenic shots, Swift, Antonoff and Dessner jump right into commentary, describing the complexity of their creative process to produce Folklore in isolation. This section is extremely interesting, as Swift and her collaborators had to jump through many hoops to produce the album in quarantine — Swift even had to build her own home studio. The group then begins the commentary section of the film, in which each song is discussed, then performed live.

For fans of the Folklore album, “The Long Pond Studio Sessions” is a fantastic experience. The discussion between collaborators highlights both Swift’s immense songwriting ability and the musical skills of Antonoff and Dessner. The intimate performances provide a genuine look into music production as well, making each song a unique experience. That being said, “The Long Pond Studio Sessions” is more of a concert than a film, and after an hour and a half, itcan feel a little bit prolonged. Even I, a massive fan of both Swift and her latest album, found that I was struggling through the second half. However, if one goes into “The Long Pond Studio Sessions” with the intention of simply enjoying the music, rather than entertainment the film is quite enjoyable. 

For Swifties who aren’t sure that they could stand an hour and a half of performance and commentary, I would suggest Miss Americana, the Netflix documentary released in 2019. Unlike “The Long Pond Studio Sessions,” “Miss Americana” explores more of Swift’s personal life and musical journey, both in and out of the public eye. However, if you are a fan of Swift who truly loves every song on Folklore, I would absolutely suggest “The Long Pond Studio Sessions.”