Taylor Swift is a name most of the general population has heard before. Whether one of her adoring fans, who have called themselves “swifites” since the star’s breakout in 2006, or one of her outspoken critics, chances are that everyone has heard her music at some point in time over the past 13 years. Starting her career at the young age of 16, Swift has been in the limelight for a large portion of her life. These years have shown her painted a rainbow of colors by the media, gaining both recognition and harsh criticism for both her personal life and her career in music.
Last week Swift released her 7th studio album “Lover” with a track list of 18 songs making it her longest album to date. Swift has been alluding to this album since her 2018 AMA acceptance speech for Favorite Pop/Rock Album in which she teased that she was excited for “the next chapter.”
Since Swift’s crossover to pop with her album “1989” her style has been unpredictable and constantly evolving, even as she has stayed true to her honest and narrative style of songwriting.
The title track “Lover” embodies the storyline of being in love with a fresh voice, mixing Swift’s acoustic roots with a pop-drenched coo as she sings out the word “lover.” The sensation of a live band paints the image of a bride and groom’s first dance, a piano and steady drumbeat driving the song along with raw vocals that feel both confident and fragile at the same time.
The power song off of this album is “The Man” where Swift boldly points out the difference in the treatment of men and women, particularly in the language used to describe the actions of men versus women. Swift fearlessly sings out “When everyone believes you/What’s that like?” referencing the tendency for society to leave men uncontested in their claims and accounts.
Staying true to her metaphor of “opening up [her] diary” to the world with her songwriting, the song “Soon You’ll Get Better” (feat. Dixie Chicks) is filled with an emotionally raw voice that Swift has not rolled out since the track “All Too Well” debuted on her album “Red” in 2012.
Believed to be about Swift’s mother who has been battling cancer for the past several years, the track pleads “soon you’ll get better, because you have to,” followed by a breathy sigh that could bring tears to anyone’s eyes. The contributions from the Dixie Chicks bring Swift back to her beginnings in country music, complementing her heartfelt lyrics with gentle backup vocals accompanied by a warm banjo and violin pairing.
As the first single off of the album, “ME!” falls short when seated next to the remaining 17 tracks. Although in line with the mainstream pop of today, the track lacks the level of sophistication fans often expect from Swift, leaving listeners disappointed.
The song is upbeat and fun but the simplicity of the lyrics feels tired rather than fresh and new. Initially, the version of the track that was released as a single contained the line “Hey kids! Spelling is fun!,” but Swift has since removed the line from the song with the release of the full album due to the backlash by the public. Swift defended the track by stating that she and Brendon Urie, who features on the track, wanted this song to “not really be fully taking itself seriously.” While it is easy to see what Swift was going for, she instead comes off as not really taking her role as a songwriter seriously.
Ultimately, Taylor Swift is not one to leave her audience disappointed and has created an album as dreamy and enticing as the pink clouds drifting across the album’s cover. The album is the complete embodiment of Swift’s talent as a musician and songwriter, fully celebrating her talents and creativity in a way that elevates the genre of pop to a new level.