“This album is a love letter to love itself,” says Taylor Swift of her seventh album “Lover,” which dropped Aug. 23. The album includes 18 songs that explore various versions of love, from self-love to romantic love in all its beautiful forms. It includes singles “Me!” featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, “You Need To Calm Down” and the title track “Lover”.
Whether you’re a fan of Swift or just another hater, it is impossible to ignore the brilliance of “Lover.” There are many factors that make this her best work yet, but one worth noting in particular is “Lover” is the first album Swift owns.
Swift’s vocals are the best they’ve ever been on this album. Sonically, “Lover” is reminiscent of 2014’s “1989” with the romantic lyricism of “Speak Now.” Frequent collaborator Jack Antanoff, who also worked on “1989,” is credited on 11 of the 18 songs.
Not only does each song explore a different aspect of love, but each song has a distinct sound. From upbeat, new wave “Paper Rings” to steel-drum-infused ballad “It’s Nice to Have a Friend” or saxophone slow jam “False God,” no two songs are the same. Across the 18 tracks, listeners get the chance to experience a group of songs as diverse as love itself.
Swift has always been known for her lyrical prowess. On “Lover,” her lyrics are somehow even more raw and eloquent than ever before.
Emotional ballad “Soon You’ll Get Better” sees Swift opening up about her mother’s battle with cancer and the toll it has taken on her. With lyrics like, “And I hate to make this all about me/But who am I supposed to talk to/What am I supposed to do/If there’s no you,” this might be Swift’s most vulnerable song yet. Swift also opens up more on the fifth track, “The Archer,” which seems to detail insecurities and anxieties.
“Lover” also finds Swift opening up more about her personal beliefs. “The Man” is a bold track questioning how perception of Swift would change if she were a man all while calling out sexism. “I’d be a fearless leader / I’d be an alpha type / When everyone believes ya / What’s that like?” Swift sings. Later, on “You Need To Calm Down,” Swift again expresses her personal beliefs by declaring her allyship for the LGBTQ+ community with lyrics, “You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace / And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate / Cause shade never made anybody less gay.” Swift also shares her thoughts about the current political climate for the entirety of “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” setting the song’s narrative within the confines of a high school.
Further proof that “Lover” is Swift’s best yet are the achievements the album has made in the three weeks since its release. “Lover” sold 867,000 units in its first week, earning Swift the number one spot on the Billboard 200 Chart. Even more impressive, every track off “Lover” made Billboard’s Hot 100, making Swift the third woman in history to ever chart an entire album at once. The three singles off “Lover” have also done well, with “You Need to Calm Down” earning both Video of the Year and Video for Good at the 2019 MTV VMAs.
One final important thing about “Lover” is Swift’s growth not only as a songwriter and musician but also as a young woman. The album opens with “I Forgot That You Existed,” an upbeat song about moving on from toxic things and people and making peace with past pain. This song demonstrates the transition in Swift from the turbulence and darkness of “Reputation” to the tranquility and happiness of “Lover.” If you look closely, it becomes clear that Swift has found not only herself but also true happiness. The album comes to a close with “Daylight,” a song that simultaneously reflects on her past and expresses appreciation for her present.
“I wanna be defined by the things that I love,” Swift declares in the outro. “I just think that…you are what you love.”
Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia