Album Review: Taylor Swift’s 'Lover'

The first time I heard a Taylor Swift song was in 2nd grade. My family had just moved to a little town outside of Dallas, Texas, and it was my first year at a new school. It was 2007, and someone was singing a song I had never heard before. As “Our Song” echoed through the cafeteria-turned-auditorium, I was completely captivated by the melody and lyrics – at the time, I just thought it was the catchiest and most exciting song in the world. I remember the whole school talking about that student’s performance, and although I can’t quite recall, part of me likes to believe that she won the talent show that year. From that moment on, I became a die-hard Taylor Swift fan.

Through album releases and stadium tours, I have become a part of a community of Swift fans--  better known as Swifties. It may sound childish to some, but some of the best friends I made over the years in my town were also huge fans of Swift and her music, and it was almost like an unbreakable bond. No matter what, we knew we’d always have a love for Taylor Swift in common. 

Although many made fun of Swift and those who admired her, I always found it childish when others looked down upon her for being herself. She was – and still is – one of the most authentic and admirable celebrities. She is talented beyond belief and goes above and beyond to give back to the fans that have supported her throughout her career. Before every album release since 1989, Swift has invited fans into her home and played songs from the album for them, about a month before its release. Baking them homemade treats and sending them off with individual photos and memories to look back on for ages, she takes special care in making every fan feel welcome. 

Beyond that, she interacts with fans online on a regular basis and has been known to send personalized gifts to fans, make visits to fans’ weddings and other special occasions, as well as donate to GoFundMe campaigns in support of fans and their families in dire situations. 

Following the release of an album, Swift seeks out photos of fans with the new album and posts them in montages on Twitter. Accompanied by lyrics from the new songs, the bright and smiling faces of fans in photos never fail to make me smile. Although it may seem like a small act, the fact that Swift dedicates so much of her time to thanking fans for listening to and supporting her music is very meaningful to her fans.

 

 

When it comes to her music, every one of her albums tells a unique and intricate story. They all reflect on periods of her life, and although they draw heavily from her own experiences, each and every song feels personal in a way that is difficult to describe. Swift’s songwriting skills are unmatched and the subtle manner in which her albums tie themselves to each other is commendable. In her latest album, Lover, references to past songs and lyrics are interspersed between the charming melodies and clever bridges. 

Given that her sound has shifted with every album – a testament to personal growth and undeniable talent – I was unsure of what to expect before the release of Lover. Her previous album, reputation, reflected a much darker side of Swift than had ever been shown through her music, and although it wasn’t my favorite of hers, it was still filled to the brim with clever lyrics and gorgeous melodies. Given the extremely public shaming that Swift had undergone due to drama stirred up by other celebrities, many of the album’s songs talk about the media’s perception of her, as the album’s title suggests. Because the media was so against her for such a long period of time, her own perception of herself was threatened, and songs from Lover reflect that. 

Lover is a masterful collection of songs that are reminiscent of her third through fifth studio albums - Speak Now, Red, and 1989 – while still having a completely unique sound and story to tell. Among one of the longest albums she’s released with 18 songs full-length songs, the songs flow and work together to create a sonically cohesive sound and a story that reflects on Swift’s life in a more personal way than ever before. 

The deluxe version of the album, which can be found exclusively at Target, features entries from some of Swift’s journals over the years as well as never-before-seen photos, bonus tracks, and a poster. There are four deluxe versions of the album, and each includes unique content.

Some of my personal favorites from this album are “The Man,” which is a sharp song about double standards when it comes to successful men and women. It’s the feminist anthem that we’ve all been waiting for, voicing the thoughts that cross the minds of thousands of people every day. 

Another one of my favorite songs on this record is “Death By A Thousand Cuts,” which was inspired by the Netflix film "Someone Great." It features incredible lyrics and a melody that will forever be stuck in my head. 

“Paper Rings” is one of the most adorable songs on the album. It is charming, whimsical, and reminds me of the songs on Speak Now and Red. It almost feels like a more mature version of Red’s “Stay Stay Stay,” but with a more romantic twist. One of the best dance-around-the-kitchen songs on the album, I am constantly singing it and getting my roommates to jam along to it with me. 

The album features a song about her mother’s illness, which is heartbreaking yet stunningly hopeful, which may be one of the saddest and most personal songs that Swift has ever released. Each time I listen to “Soon You’ll Get Better,” I can’t help but cry. Swift crafted such a beautiful song about something so personal to so many, and I am sure that this song strikes a different meaning to each and every listener. 

The final song on the album, “Daylight,” takes the cake for my absolute favorite song on this album. Long before the album was released, Swift teased a lyric from the song and used it as an Instagram caption. 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Step into the daylight and let it go.

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

 

“Daylight” is about moving on and looking ahead to better and brighter things. After a period of darkness, the most hopeful thing can be just a sliver of light, and Swift emphasizes this throughout the song. The song ends with a monologue that brings me to tears whenever I hear it, and it a perfect way to close out the album: 

"I wanna be defined by the things that I love/Not the things I hate/Not the things I'm afraid of, I'm afraid of/The things that haunt me in the middle of the night, I/I just think that you are what you love." 

Although unspoken, the silence right before the song ends leaves ample room for something along the lines of “…and I love you.” As a fan of over 10 years, this is what I hear in that silence. This song reminds me of Speak Now’s “Long Live,” which is one of my favorite songs of all time. Both songs are about the transition to better opportunities and mindsets, and I love how uplifting and straightforward they are. 

Whether you’re a Taylor Swift fan or not, I would highly recommend listening to this album. Although it draws from musical styles featured on past albums, it has a sound of its own. While my favorite Swift albums before this one’s release were Speak Now and Red, this one has become my new favorite. It is so special and features songs that I am confident will be playing on an endless loop for years to come.