Taylor Swift shows versatility within concepts, songwriting and musical composition

Cotton candy colored clouds and sparkly, hot pink letters scrawled across the album cover serve as a portal into the universe that is “Lover.” On Friday, Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album, and first self-owned album, hit shelves and streaming services, captivating listeners with divergent elements of musical talent full of twists and turns.

The 29-year-old popstar opens “Lover” with a response to someone doing her “wrong, wrong, wrong” in “I Forgot That You Existed.” Keys and snaps echo in the background when something happens one “magical night” –– she forgets they even existed. Recalling Swift’s past narratives and her “Reputation” address to it all, the song fits the prior mold. It seems as though we are still dealing with her rightful anger of the past. However, this is when she grabs us by the arm and takes us on our first surprise turn.

The tracklist shifts into a story of her and her beau, English actor Joe Alwyn. Layered upon robotic voices and heavy synth, “Cruel Summer” depicts the beginning, secretive stages of their relationship. Swift sings, “I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you” and “I snuck in through the garden gate,” referencing her need to keep her developing romance away from the public eye, hence why it was a cruel summer. 

Swift makes a sharp turn and jumps into injustice amidst the pop filled bop, “The Man.” She addresses double standards amongst women and men with lyrics such as, “When everyone believes ya/what’s that like” and “They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve.” In a time where female empowerment is so prevalent, Swift drives it forward and ensures it’s known by all. 

From past feuds to stories of romance to making a statement, Swift develops “Lover” into a dynamic array of art that has something for everyone –– and we’re only four songs into the 18-track album.

However, Swift’s capability to emphasize varying concepts is not the only side to this multifaceted album.

Skipping ahead, Swift shows us the reason why she is still on top: her versatility within musical composition. “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” composed by Joel Little and Swift, pierces through the wave of electric pop crescendo. It’s a thick track detailed with tambourines, keys and bass, yet brightened by cheerleader shouts of “Go! Fight! Win!” Swift’s vocals could also be compared to that of Lana Del Rey in this number. 

“Death By A Thousand Cuts” kicks off with a sound of banging metal followed by warped reverb and the word “my” bouncing from left to right. An acoustic guitar then plays alongside a light, happy melody. The song is juxtaposed by an experience that causes Swift to sing “I get drunk, but it’s not enough/’Cause the morning comes and you’re not my baby.” This contrast is relatable for listeners who can reflect on the emotions felt during ending love. The connection increases when Swift references a finished love she’s still reaching for by singing, “If the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?”

The flow of individuality persists as “Paper Rings” will make you want to do the Carlton, “False God” will take you to jazz city and “It’s Nice To Have A Friend” will have you questioning if you are still listening to the same album. “Soon You’ll Get Better” drifts far from all the other songs, surrounding the events of Swift’s mother’s battle with cancer. The melancholic track is accompanied by acoustic guitar, melodic harmonies and vocals from the Dixie Chicks themselves.

Piano, echoes and sonically amplified beats lead way into a full circle moment that is “Daylight.” One of Swift’s first hints at the start of this era was an Instagram post that said, “Step into the daylight and let it go.” Little did we know that it would be one of the last few lyrics on “Lover” preceded by a concluding voice memo saying, “I wanna be defined by the things that I love/Not the things I hate/Not the things that I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of/Not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night/I, I just think that/You are what you love.”

“Lover” is a spirited catalog of songs that can’t be contained. The complexities found within Swift’s songwriting abilities are on full display, and this album provides a new story for each listener.