Taylor Swift’s latest release, Lover, has proven to everyone that she can write about so much more than heartbreak.
Ever since Taylor Swift stepped onto the music scene with her first, eponymous album, she’s become known for her sad, beautiful, tragic, and fierce songs about lost love and heartbreak. “Picture to Burn,” “Should’ve Said No,” “Teardrops On My Guitar,” and “Cold As You,” would go on to be the soundtracks of our breakups for years to come, even remaining so, today!
As Taylor grew older and her loves grew deeper, her angsty anthems only got better, more articulate, and more plentiful. Her catalogue grew to include lyrically immaculate pieces like “All Too Well” and “You’re Not Sorry,” ferocious takedowns like “Dear John” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and of course, the entire turbulent 1989 album.
Year after year, and album after album, she became the artist we looked toward to put our own pain into words. So much so, that I have actually asked my partner to kindly plan any potential future break up around a Taylor Swift album release. I feel like it would considerably soften the blow.
At this point, Swift has become so synonymous with the heartbreak anthem that people have been seriously speculating for years that her superstardom would fade if she were ever to get into a serious relationship. Eager for the songs her suitors would inspire, the world got out their proverbial popcorn and watched as she fell in and out of love, lust, and everything in between, truly fearing that her art would suffer if the cycle were to end.
Thankfully, as she’s been so great at doing since day one, Taylor Swift has officially proven all of those people wrong. Lover has gone above and beyond in delivering the “love letter to love itself,” that Taylor Swift promised.
Writing this album found Taylor enjoying, not only a healthy, three-year-strong relationship, but also the perspective that could only come with being clearly and completely on the other side of the madness that inspired Reputation. She’s happy, it shows, and her music has not suffered one iota for it.
While not every song on Lover is about being madly in love with a partner, friend, parent, or anything else, that is definitely the overwhelming tone of the album. It is a cohesive, catchy, and cute celebration of love, from start to finish, while still being incredibly well-rounded.
With “Lover” and “Daylight,” Taylor Swift has poetically and eloquently expressed the true magic of romantic love better than she ever has before. Just like these songs, it’s cozy, it’s simple, and it’s “golden.” The feeling of coming home and not being able to tell if you’ve known someone “20 seconds or 20 years.” The promise of a future where someone will “save you a seat” at every table.
Taylor Swift has taken some early swings at these concepts on previous albums with “Mary’s Song,” “Love Story,” “Mine,” and “You Are in Love,” but these songs weren’t about her own experiences. The contrast in the emotion behind these songs and the Lover offerings is as stark as the difference between a high school crush and finding your soulmate.
“Cruel Summer” and “I Think He Knows” capture the complex feelings of knowing this type of love is on the horizon, when you’re just about to seal your fate. “Cornelia Street,” “The Archer,” and “Afterglow” perfectly convey the fear that comes with knowing you have a hell of a lot to lose. These songs aren’t always about love, but they all have a deep undercurrent of the feeling that means it’s all going to be okay. It’s all going to be worth it.
The genius of Taylor Swift’s songwriting goes so much deeper than the lyrics, as well, particularly in her last three albums. Lover is certainly no exception. With all of these songs, and every song on the album, Taylor and the people she’s chosen to work with convey the chosen emotion and message with every beat, tone, and added giggle.
“Lover” doesn’t just talk about love, it feels like love. The production of the song feels incredibly intimate and the whole thing is like a warm blanket wrapped around you. “Daylight” sounds like the sky opening up after a long storm. “Cornelia Street” and “Cruel Summer” have a sense of urgency to them that only comes with the pursuit of love.
Taylor Swift has used this album to prove that love is just as profound as pain. If it wasn’t, why would anyone bother with any of it? And bother we do, with both being nearly as inevitable as death and taxes.
If anything, Taylor Swift has actually reached a whole new level of vulnerability with Lover. Most people find it far easier to share their fears with others than their hopes. To share a fear is to take a step toward overcoming it, while to share a hope is to risk an even more public failure if it doesn’t come to fruition.
For Taylor Swift to share her love with us and put lyrics like “I hope I never lose you,” out into the world, knowing that it’s possible she might, is shedding a layer of defense greater than she had to when spilling about relationships already spoiled.
While I’m sure we haven’t heard the last break up anthem from Taylor Swift (“Death by a Thousand Cuts” even covered that territory on Lover), it’s clear that she can write songs with just as much substance no matter what stage of life and love she’s in.
Just as Taylor Swift has always helped Swifties articulate our pain and desire, she’s now gifting us the means to more fully express love. As a Swiftie who’s been lucky enough to find the golden type of love ahead of Lover, I’ve found myself getting surprised by how intensely some of the album’s lyrics hit me, striking a gorgeous chord that I hadn’t yet identified as beautiful and intrinsically valuable in my own life and relationship.
That’s how Taylor Swift has always related to her fans. Her words and music have always either echoed and amplified our experiences, or provided something that we could aspire to. In the past we could aspire not to the pain (except for that time I truly wished I was going through a break up so I could fully experience the power of “We Are Never”), but to the feelings that made that pain possible.
With Lover, Taylor Swift has created a piece that all fans can find true beauty and meaning in, whether it be the obvious or subtle kind. She’s shown that inspiration can also be found in happiness, and proven that pain isn’t the only thing worth singing about. She’s developed a whole new perspective and intensified an entire new set of emotions for her audience, making Lover one of her most unique and impressive works yet.
So for all of the people who said she should remain miserable forever? It’s okay, she forgot you existed!