the return of Taylor Swift


“Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand?
With every guitar string scar in my hand,”
– Taylor Swift; Lover

Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album, Lover, has finally released to bless our sweet ears (and the rains on Cornelia Street) on August 23rd. According to the 29-year-old singer-songwriter, the album represents “a love letter to love itself — all the captivating, spellbinding, maddening, devastating, red, blue, gray, golden aspects of it (that’s why there are so many songs)” and that could not be truer.

With eighteen intriguing track titles, this album sheds a whole new light in comparison to her Reputation album, as represented by the music video of the first track dropped – ME! – where a slithering pink snake burst into a confetti of multicolored butterflies.

After a year or two of battling with the media and her image, Swift has once again left her past to be and conjured new music to remind us of who she really was at the end of the day – a lover and nothing less. Even though the title of the album is Lover, Swift, being the true singer-songwriter that she is, did not shy away from tackling current issues including advocating for the LGBTQ community in her song You Need To Calm Down. 

Upon listening to the album for the first time, I was instantly transported back to an earlier Swift era, when the American sweetheart crafted songs about her journey of searching for love, only this time, she has found it. The album itself reverberated familiar feels and references from the Red and 1989 album. Here’s a swift (see what I did there?) break down of some of the notable mentions from Lover:

The album kicks off with I Forgot That You Existed, which comes in a bouncy tune accompanied by lyrics written with the utmost flair. The song illustrates those post-breakup moments that we all eventually go through, the moments where we forgive and forget about the bad blood and move onto the next big thing. It’s almost as if this was a precaution tucked ever so subtly in the opening track, telling us that in this album, there will be no shade, drama or revenge, just pure, pure love.

To say that Swift is a lyrical genius immediately becomes an understatement; her ability to put words that are individually significant yet universally engaging to melodies is something that often goes underpraised, a talent much inadequate in the music industry.

The second track on the album, Cruel Summer, screams to me in a way that almost made me bawl my eyes out (keep in mind this was only five minutes into the entire album). The lyrics such as “Said ‘I’m fine’, but it wasn’t true / I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you” really hit home for me. This is the perfect example of the previously conveyed point; even though these songs mean something to Swift, anyone, such as myself, would be able to relate to it and feel all the emotions through the music. This track depicts all the fragile and uncertain pieces in a relationship and definitely has me screaming along to “I love you ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”

I dare not call myself a true Swiftie if I do not comment on the title track, Lover, which reminds me of the Red era Swift, giving out All Too Well vibes. However, the inspiration for the music video itself nods toward the lyrics from her 1989 track You’re In Love – “You two are dancing in a snow globe, round and round”. There is a lot of speculation around the lyrics of this song, suggesting that Swift wanting all the summers to come with her lover is a hint that she is engaged to her current boyfriend Joe Alwyn. Of course, a songwriter always has his or her own story behind a song, but I believe that as the audience, what we should appreciate is the genius craft that comes out of it.

Swift’s overall melodious and soothing voice brings around the feeling of being in love; it’s the kind of calming assurance that you have someone there, next to you, for however long it takes. She accomplishes that and brings the emotion to life excellently in this track.

Paper Rings is a rather light-hearted, whimsical song that subtly hints at Swift’s satisfaction of going from friends to lover. Just when you think the song couldn’t get any better, it reaches the bridge which has that significant Swift touch before the song fades away. It’s a comfort to know that after all these transitions in the music industry, the old, country-style Taylor Swift still lives on.

London Boy, without a doubt, has to be one of my favorites. Besides this song obviously being dedicated to her beau Joe Alwyn, her use of British slang is absolutely enjoyable to listen to. She declares her love for London activities and London places before singing in the chorus that she loves her London Boy the most. The composition behind this song is lovable and the rhythmic rhyming of lyrics is plausibly the reason I have it all memorized.

It’s Nice To Have A Friend, the shortest song on the entire album, stands at 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The simplistic melody and repetition of the verses and chorus, paired together with a choir in the background serve to reiterate the message that is the song’s title. This ballad tells the tale of two friends who crossed paths in school and eventually got married to each other. Sounds familiar? Well, Swift has written a song in the similar lyrical format – 2006’s Mary’s Song (Oh My My My). 

In Daylight, there’s a line that goes like this: “I once believed love would be (burning red)
but it’s golden”. While this strongly hints at one of her hit songs Red, it just goes on to emphasize how some of Swift’s previous assumptions that love has to be this extravagant, cliché, perfect fairy-tale in one’s life, she turned out to be wrong. It can be something that people couldn’t care less about, but it’s the shiniest moment in a lover’s life – glitter, shimmer and all.

I could go on and on telling you how I fell in love with her lyrics over and over again – the classic cheerleader and jock Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, the based-on-a-true-story Cornelia Street, the sad prick-in-the-heart masked by a couple of happy chords Death By A Thousand Cuts, the jazzy False God, the absolutely heart-breaking Afterglow, and more, but I believe that Swift’s music speaks for herself.

The album Lover reminds me of exactly why I fell in love with Swift’s music in the first place ten years back – it has lyrics that seem straight out of a diary and just the right melody that has got me dancing stupidly in my room and lip-syncing to the tracks as they shuffle on repeat, giving me hope that love is everywhere and it will one day find you. It seems like old Taylor wasn’t dead all along, rather, she was just lost for a moment in love.

Lover is thus far the most Taylor Swift album there is. If you haven’t yet listened to it, you’re making a fatal mistake.

To end this review in the only way that it deserves, here’s the spoken outro of the album:

I wanna be defined by the things that I love
Not the things I hate
Not the things that I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of
Not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night
I, I just think that
You are what you love