After releasing her sixth studio album, “Reputation,” in 2017, it appeared Taylor Swift was embracing her edginess through songs laced with aggression toward her critics. Her new album, “Lover,” signifies a clean slate for Swift and a newfound maturity in her music — a refreshing metamorphosis after losing herself in her previous album.
Back in April, Swift released the first song, “ME!,” featuring Brandon Urie from Panic! At The Disco. While the single succeeded in revitalizing Swift’s signature upbeat, bubblegum pop style, it failed to resurrect her lyrical prowess. The flop was a disappointing introduction to the album, and the idea of the songstress coming full circle seemed futile.
But the true futility was doubting Swift’s skill as a songwriter based on one subpar track.
Released Friday, “Lover” strikes the perfect balance between strong ballads and light-hearted tunes to indulge her younger fanbase. Many tracks are based off the singer’s romance with actor Joe Alwyn and represent Swift’s transition from the perspective of a scorned ex-lover in her previous albums to a sentimental romantic.
Her maturity is especially showcased in “Death By A Thousand Cuts” with lines such as, “Gave you so much, but it wasn’t enough / But I’ll be alright, it’s just a thousand cuts.” In “Afterglow,” she even accepts a certain level of responsibility for past failed relationships, singing, “Why’d I have to break what I love so much? / It’s on your face, and I’m to blame, I need to say.”
Keeping with the emotional transparency, Swift’s decision to feature the Dixie Chicks on “Soon You’ll Get Better” was a brilliant move. The songstress originally hinted at a collaboration with the all-female country group in the music video for “ME!” when the camera pans to a photo of them as Swift delivers the line, “And there’s a lot of cool chicks out there.” The harmony between the women creates a deeply intimate and realistic depiction of life after heartbreak in this strong track, emphasizing that time heals all wounds.
Counteracting the deep, sentimental pieces on the album, “Lover” also features a number of fun, danceable beats that encapsulate Swift’s signature style. “Paper Rings” is a happy-go-lucky tune about young love, featuring a quick drum beat. “I Forgot You Existed” is Swift brushing off the haters, and it has a mix of piano and techno elements. “London Boy” is a goofy, light-hearted love letter to her boyfriend.
After 17 beautifully-produced ballads, the album concludes with Swift’s strongest and most profound track. “Daylight” feels like a shift in perspective for Swift as she emerges from the darkness surrounding her “Reputation” album into the light of a new beginning thanks to the power of love. She recognizes her past mistakes in lines such as, “My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in / There are so many lines that I’ve crossed unforgiven,” but emphasizes in the outro that she’s moved on: “You gotta step into the daylight and let it go / Just let it go, let it go.” It’s the perfect piece to finalize her metamorphosis.
“Lover” reassures fans that Swift is returning to her old strengths and maturing in her music. Rather than relying on vocal fillers and catchy beats to produce these hits, she’s tapped back into her lyrical genius and naturally beautiful voice that initially gave her a start in the industry. This album is a fresh start for Swift and a chance for her to leave her mistakes and drama in the past in favor of a future with love and undoubtedly immense success.
Contact Amy Needham at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.