"In all the chaos, this has been an incredibly creative year for Taylor," says a source close to the star, who released back-to-back surprise albums

By Brianne Tracy
December 17, 2020 01:00 PM
Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift made the best out of the difficult year that is 2020.

In July, the superstar, 31, released her surprise album, folklore. Then just five months later, on Dec. 11, she shocked fans by dropping yet another collection of music, her ninth studio album evermore.

"In all the chaos, this has been an incredibly creative year for Taylor," a source close to Swift tells PEOPLE in this week's issue, on newsstands Friday. "She has been able to focus on her music in a completely different way, and she hopes she can share some positive vibes."

While announcing evermore's release on Twitter Dec. 10, Swift explained that "we just couldn't stop writing songs" after folklore.

"To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music," she wrote. "We chose to wander deeper in."

"I've never done this before," she continued. "In the past I've always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning."

Swift added that she "loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales."

"I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them," she wrote.

On evermore, Swift reunited with her folklore collaborators Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff and the once-mysterious William Bowery. In her Disney+ documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions released last month, Swift confirmed rumors that Bowery is a pseudonym for Joe Alwyn, her British actor boyfriend of four years.

"I heard Joe singing the entire fully formed chorus of 'Betty' from another room, and I just was like, 'Hello,'" Swift revealed in the film about the folklore track. "I came in and I was like, 'Hey, this could be really weird and we could hate this, [but] because we're in quarantine and there's nothing else going on, could we just try to see what it's like if we write this song together?'"

Taylor Swift, Joe Alwyn
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn
| Credit: Blitz Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

Swift has since teamed up with Alwyn, 29, for three more songs on evermore — "Champagne Problems," "Coney Island" and evermore's title track — but the actor is happy to stay behind the scenes.

"Taylor was very excited to share a second album with fans, and Joe has been supportive as always," says the source close to her. "He is a very laidback person."

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2021 is already shaping up to be just as monumental of a year for Swift, who is up for six Grammys at the annual awards ceremony being held on Jan. 31. But first, says the source, she and Alwyn "are looking forward to celebrating Christmas together."

For all the details on Taylor Swift's private world, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.