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‘An entrancing hour of emotions’
When she came crashing back to the music scene in April following months of cryptic Instagram posts, Taylor Swift set a very clear image of what she wanted to convey in her new era. The bubblegum-pop infused lead single featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco opens with ‘I promise that you’ll never find another like me’, something she has proven beyond doubt over the years. Her seamless transition from country sweetheart to pop idol has certainly secured her place as one of the industry’s most prominent stars and, with a career spanning well over a decade, her longevity is undeniable. Despite not being one of the more evocative lyrics from the album, ‘I’m in my feelings more than Drake’ – from ‘I Forgot You Existed’, helps to paint the rose-tinted view of love and relationships which Taylor has conveyed so well in her most personal music collection to date.
The singer-songwriter’s seventh studio album Lover succeeds 2017’s dark and provocative Reputation, alluding to her very public feud with the Kardashian-Wests and the backlash she inevitably faced as a result. Her previous work is worlds away from her new release. Described as the lyrical sister of 2010s entirely self-written Speak Now and, production-wise, the grown-up best friend of 2015’s 1989, Lover is a reaffirmation of Taylor’s indisputable capability to turn even the most cynical into a hopeless romantic. The title track produced with long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff is the epitome of a first dance song, with the line ‘My heart’s been borrowed, and yours has been blue, all’s well that ends well to end up with you.’ A love letter to her boyfriend of three years Joe Alwyn, the song alludes to similar themes as the upbeat and irresistibly catchy ‘Paper Rings’ which wouldn’t be out of place in the credit scene of a romantic comedy. Alwyn’s influence is also evident in ‘London Boy,’ an ode to the couple’s time spent in the British capital which samples a snippet of an Idris Elba interview. Running along the same lines as Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl,’ native Londoners have satirically tweeted that Taylor’s plans to be in Shoreditch, Brixton and Highgate in one day elicit ‘major Underground anxiety.’
Fan-favourite, radio-friendly ‘Cruel Summer’, (Swift’s first collaboration with St. Vincent) and the sensual slow-jam ‘False God’ are two tracks to add to your playlists. While the former evokes memories of the two weeks of sun we got in July, the latter would fit perfectly in any of the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtracks. ‘Cornelia Street’ on the other hand, my personal favourite from Lover, is notably similar in style to many tracks from Red of 2012, as Taylor reminisces about the time she spent in a rented apartment with Alwyn in earlier stages of their relationship.
It’s not only romantic love which Swift alludes to in the album. Arguably the most emotional track on Lover, ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ – a collaboration with the Dixie Chicks – is a tribute to her mother Andrea who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. The song takes the listener back to Taylor’s country roots, and with lyrics as poignant as ‘Each night, I pray to you, desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too,’ do not take it lightly when I suggest you have tissues at the ready.
One of the stand-outs of the album is the Halsey-like ‘Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince’, which reaches into the whimsical thematic territory that Swift is so familiar with. The politically driven yet breathtakingly romantic track delves into the façade of the idealistic American high school experience and the possibility of running away from small-town life with your teenage love.
Notoriously very private about her political views, it was not until the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections that Swift publically voiced her support for candidates for office, endorsing the Democratic party for their support towards the LGBTQ+ community and their policies aiming for racial and gender equality. This was asserted in the second single from Lover; the infectious and sing-along worthy ‘You Need to Calm Down’ which boasts a music video featuring LGBTQ+ stars such as Hayley Kiyoko, Todrick Hall and the cast of Netflix’s Queer Eye. ‘The Man’ on the other hand details how her career would be different if she were, you guessed it, a man, alluding to the infamous media coverage of her career choices and past relationships.
The end of the album boasts ‘Daylight’ a self-written song which was initially supposed to be the title track, and it’s not hard to see why. ‘You gotta step into the daylight and let it go’ is a metaphorical dream. Gone are the days of the snakes, darkness