The cover art tells the difference in styles. Two years ago, the cover was black and white with her eyes meeting the camera with an intense gaze. Now Taylor Swift’s new album “Lover” is covered in cotton candy clouds and Swift’s figure in soft blue and eyes not even looking at the viewer. The soft dreamy concept of the cover and the title of the album is echoed in the music.
The title track of the album reflects this. “Lover” starts with an acoustic guitar and beat echoing an old school song from the 40’s. The almost tinny effect on Swift’s voice adds to the vintage sound as the song progresses. The lyrics are signature Swift style lyrics depicting a dreamy feel of some moments in an established relationship.
Swift’s voice is airy and delicate in the chorus, exposing the vulnerability of wanting more from a relationship and further in the song of revealing insecurities. The soft background vocals add to the dreamy feel of the song. The whisper breakdown when the guitar drops out and a piano takes over the rhythm calls back to the old school love songs and adds more dynamic to the song to keep the listener engaged.
Along with all the gentle and fanciful songs like “The Archer” and “Cornelia Street” there are some more tough love songs. “The Man” is one of those songs. The song starts with just a deep synthetic beat and Swift’s voice. The lyrics don’t tell a story but start describing how people would view Swift if she was a man. At the chorus manufactured background music comes in to emphasis the change and pick up the song’s tempo. It causes the audience to perk up and really listen to the message behind the song.
In the album, Swift experiments with different ways of presenting her voice on her records, “False God” demonstrates that. With a jazzy trumpet intro that suddenly shifts to synthetic drop and Swift’s percussive and gentle vocals. The heavy beat almost overpowers her voice but that only adds to the broken hearted vulnerability portrayed in the lyrics. Her vocals turn to almost spoken word as the song builds up towards the chorus before her soft vocals pair with the trumpet from the beginning.
The overall feel of the album can be captured in “Daylight.” Like the cover of the album it starts off soft and dreamy with Swift’s voice and a synthetic guitar. The beat comes in later, quietly at first before building as the song progresses to the chorus. On first listen it’s easy to miss the chorus but the beat drops out momentarily and Swift’s vocals become the focus. Her voice strengthens as the song continues and the second chorus is more distinct especially now that the listener knows what to listen for. The music builds to take the song from sounding sad to being more empowering and uplifting.
The main reason this song encompasses the album though isn’t just the feel of the song, it’s the voice recording of Swift just talking over soft piano notes. She talks about what she wants to be defined by and reveals a bit about why the title of the album is “Lover.”
“Lover” is everything the cover art demonstrates. It has soft and dreamy songs about love, but also has the more range of topics from dealing with hate in “I Forgot You Existed” and other topics beyond that. “Lover” has demonstrated Swift’s versatility in songwriting and maturity in exploring different types of sound.