Disgustingly In Love: Hiley Reviews Taylor Swift’s “Lover”

Taylor Swift has a lot to say. With recent projects like Reputation and Lover, listeners have gotten to hear a lot more of Taylor’s voice, rather than just hearing her make music for fun. The entirety of Reputation was Taylor sending a message to the media and to the world, and while it was kind of a let down following previous projects like Red and Speak Now – Although will any album ever top Red? It’s questionable -, I still have a lot of respect for that album and the statement she made with it. I think given the circumstances surrounding Swift at the time that Reputation came out, specifically with the Kanye West and Kim Kardashian drama, it was really needed for her to say what she said, especially with “I Did Something Bad.” Through changing her sound to be more mainstream for Reputation, she was guaranteeing that people would listen. I wouldn’t call Lover a complete 180 after Reputation, but it’s nice to hear Taylor return a little to her country roots, while also seeing her music retain the confidence that she gained on Reputation.

The opening track off of the 18-song album is titled “I Forgot That You Existed” and the title of that song alone lets listeners know that Taylor hasn’t lost any of the confidence that she showed off on Reputation. By retaining that same confidence, Taylor is letting listeners know that she’s changed and evolved since 1989 and Red, even though her sound has gone back to being more similar to those albums. I think that “I Forgot That You Existed” was a very strong choice to open the album, because it sets up some of the more confident songs on the album (like “The Man”), while also preparing listeners for the dream-like, fantasy production that is common on the album. 

Track number three, the titular track “Lover,” is the first track on the album that really showcases one of the main ideas of the project, which is that Taylor Swift is disgustingly in love. I love that track, I think it’s really poetic, and it’s one of the three songs on the album that Taylor is the only writer on, which speaks volumes to the fact that all the emotions expressed in this song are purely hers. Also, the bridge has a lot of hints towards marriage, which is something that is a pretty common theme throughout the album, particularly with songs like “Paper Rings.” 

Track four off of Lover is titled “The Man” and is a personal favorite off the project. “The Man” is a striking social commentary about how most of the backlash Taylor has received from the media, male celebrities get away with. The lyric “I’d be just like Leo, in Saint Tropez,” is probably my favorite in the song, because it directly calls out the double standards in Hollywood, and supports that by pointing to how Leonardo DiCaprio spends a lot of time with younger women (particularly at his annual fundraiser in Saint Tropez) and yet is still celebrated for his acting, while Taylor has been berated for the men that she chooses to date and had her music questioned because of her bad reputation. “The Man” is another track that showcases her personal growth since earlier projects like Red and 1989, because she never would have put out such a political song before this era (another theme on the album with songs like “You Need to Calm Down” and “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince”).

Track five, “The Archer,” is very strong lyrically, and follows Taylor’s pattern of putting her most emotional songs as track five (“All Too Well” on Red, “Dear John” on Speak Now, and so on). While I do love the lyrical content of “The Archer,” I want more from the production. The way the song starts out, it sounds like it is going to build as it progresses, but it never really builds, which left me a little disappointed. That said, the lyrics of “The Archer” makeup for the lack of build. My favorite lyrics from the track are, “Screaming who could ever leave me, darling? But who could stay?” and “All of my enemies started out friends.” 

Track seven, the aforementioned “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” is lyrically one of the strongest songs on the album. In this song Taylor paints the picture of a cliche American high school romance, only to tear that image up. In interviews Taylor has said that this song is a metaphor for the current administration in America, but I think that there’s more to the song than that original political message. I think that by tearing up the cliche, Taylor is trying to tear up her “America’s Sweetheart” image that she had, especially from when she made predominantly country music, and is showing that her days of being quiet, particularly about politics, are over.

Track nine, “Cornelia Street,” is the second track on the album where Taylor is the sole writer. “Cornelia Street” is an emotional and raw recounting of the start of a relationship. On the track, Taylor proclaims “that’s the kind of heartbreak time could never mend/I’d never walk Cornelia Street again.” I absolutely love this song, and the fact that Taylor wrote it all by herself blows my mind. The production on this track is wonderful, and does enough to accentuate her vocals but not overshadow them. Overall this song is just stunning, and I’m so glad it’s in the world now so I can listen to it daily. 

Track 10, “Death By A Thousand Cuts,” is a little bit of a different story to the rest of the songs on Lover. It sticks out a lot as the only breakup song on an album titled Lover, which is primarily about being in love. “Death By A Thousand Cuts,” has my favorite production on the album. The way the production fits around her voice is wonderful, I particularly love how in the chorus her voice and the guitar are isolated, and then different elements of production are added gradually as the song progresses. Also the way the production emphasizes the lyric “united we stand,” is really cool. Along with the amazing production on the track, “Death By A Thousand Cuts” is still very strong lyrically, which makes it another favorite of mine off of the album. 

Following “Death By A Thousand Cuts” is “London Boy.” The production of “London Boy” is wonderful as well, and some of the strongest on the album. Lyrically “London Boy” reminds me of “King of my Heart” off of Reputation, especially with the parallel of Taylor being Joe’s “American Queen” and him being her “London Boy.” I like this track a lot, it’s a really lighthearted and upbeat song, especially to follow “Death By A Thousand Cuts,” which is one of the sadder songs on the album.

After “London Boy” there is a very clear change of pace with “Soon You’ll Get Better” featuring the Dixie Chicks. “Soon You’ll Get Better” tears me up a little bit every time I listen to it. It’s about Taylor’s mom who has cancer and is a very emotional piece. The lyrics “Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too,” and “I hate to make this all about me/But who am I supposed to talk to?/What am I supposed to do/If there’s no you?” absolutely destroy me. While I think it’s sort of a crime to only use the Dixie Chicks as melodies, I understand why Taylor would want her vocals to be the main focus of this song. Also, it’s definitely not a coincidence that this song is track 12 on Lover and “The Best Day” is track 12 on Fearless, which is a parallel that tears me up. 

The final track on the album is “Daylight,” which is the third and final song on the album where Taylor was the sole writer. The composition of “Daylight” is stunning. The production builds beautifully with her vocals to make the song the way it is. I love how towards the end of the song the production is stripped back so listeners can just focus on her vocals and the layering of her vocals towards the end as well are beautiful. I love the way this closes the album, and leaves listeners on a hopeful and overall happy note. 

My definitive ranking of all of Taylor Swift’s albums: Red, Speak Now, Reputation, Fearless, Lover, Taylor Swift, 1989.


Photo Cred:  K. Fears