On Aug. 23, Taylor Swift released her seventh studio album, “Lover,” which was long overdue following her highly publicized and emotionally charged previous album, “Reputation.” “Lover” is reminiscent of the “old” Taylor Swift – the one who cried on her guitar over a boy named Drew – and less melodramatic than the version that Swift introduced to the world after her public feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Swift’s transition from album to album is evident in the music video for her hit single “ME!” released April 26 – in which a snake transforms into a swarm of butterflies. Yet Swift’s decision to release “ME!” as the lead single for “Lover” was an absolute mistake. It made the album radiate a young, bubblegum pop feel, as if the entire track list was striving to become one radio hit after radio hit. In reality, the album is much more complex and full of impactful lyrics written by Swift herself that weave a tale of love, heartbreak, joy and sadness.
Despite this, despite hits like “Cruel Summer” and “You Need to Calm Down,” despite feminist anthems like “The Man” and despite emotional ballads like “Daylight,” the album lacks the emotional charge that defines Swift albums of the past. Maybe it’s pessimistic, but some might find themselves wishing that there was some drama, some heartbreak and turmoil that lends itself to have the same chaotic energy as its predecessors like “Red,” which was released after Swift’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal ended.
These post-breakup albums are the singer’s best work. Even “Reputation,” which wasn’t released following the immediate break-up of one Swift’s relationships, but rather a public spat with West, mimics the intense emotions that Swift perfects beautifully with her songwriting. As much as some listeners may enjoy “Lover,” others might find themselves wishing there was more depth and heartbreak in the songs – Swift’s happy music is great, but it doesn’t hold a candle to her melancholy tracks. Songs like “Bad Blood,” “All Too Well” and “Blank Space” are the songs that make fans love the ten-time Grammy award winner. These songs have something in common – they were all released as a result of some drama in Swift’s life.
To some listeners, they will notice that this is what “Lover” lacks. However, the song that tugs the most at listeners’ heart strings is undoubtedly “Soon You’ll Get Better,” which features classic country trio the Dixie Chicks. At first listen, the song is a slow ballad that resembles early-era Swift more than anything she has recently released. On closer listen, it becomes clear that the song was written about Swift’s mom, Andrea, who in 2015 was diagnosed with cancer. Lyrics like “In doctor’s office lighting, I didn’t tell you I was scared” reveals Swift’s heartbreaking reaction to her mom’s condition.
Furthermore, featuring the Dixie Chicks was no mistake – Swift’s mother loves the band and she included them in the single as a tribute. “Lover” isn’t Swift’s best album, but it deserves a listen and attention. The songs are heartfelt, complex and reveal a side of the songwriter we haven’t seen before. Some fans might not love this album like they loved “Red” or “Reputation,” and it might take multiple listens to finally get inversed, but that doesn’t discredit the fact that it’s still a good album. “Lover” is a new unchartered era for Swift, but fans should be here for it.