“I wanna be defined by the things that I love,” Taylor Swift speaks plainly as Lover glides over its final notes. “Not the things I hate. Not the things I’m afraid of. Not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night.”
“Daylight” is the last of 18 tracks on Swift’s seventh studio album, and it’s the last burst of love on a mostly bright and vibrant canvas. Out of the darkness, love shines for Swift, and it doesn’t get more on the nose than the final chorus of Lover’s last song. After a detour into the uncharacteristic abyss of gloom on Reputation, Taylor manages to reset any and all narratives and reclaim the mantle of hopeful songwriter with a journal full of ambition and adulation.
WATCH MORE: Look Back at Taylor Swift's Best Pastel Fashions
In the hours before the release of Lover, Taylor took to YouTube to talk with fans and new collaborator Stella McCartney, revealing the vision behind her sparkling new LP. The singer talked about planning albums like planning proms, working with a mood board to construct her grand vision of it all. Gone is the cold muted tones of the old era, as Swift splashes color all over her latest creation. Reflected in rainbows and hearts, Lover immediately struts into a new morning.
The intent is clear from the first notes of, “I Forgot That You Existed,” shaking off the last flakes of the past to step into this new ebullient bounce. “I thought that it would kill me but it didn't,” she sings. “And it was so nice, so peaceful and quiet. I forgot that you existed. It isn't love, it isn't hate, it's just indifference.”
The lead-off song is a statement that echoes throughout the album, and it’s also the first tune featuring production from Louis Bell and Frank Dukes, two new all-stars introduced into the Swiftverse adding fresh light in place of Reputation’s Max Martin and Shellback. They join frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, who has fingerprints all over Lover, and Joel Little who spends time behind the board for lead singles, “ME!” and “You Need To Calm Down.” It’s an assembled dream team, but Swift’s songwriting and spirit is still what fuels the engine.
WATCH MORE: From Kendrick Lamar to Ed Sheeran - Taylor Swift's Biggest Artist Collaborations
Love is in the fabric of everything on Lover, even when it’s not romantic. In-between winding stories of transcontinental relationships and reclaimed self-assuredness, Swift examines several different manifestations of the feeling. On “The Man,” she looks at different standards we place upon men and women in relationships and beyond. “Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you,” she sings on the breezy song with a hefty message. Love of country and her political voice are in play on, “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” alluding to her awakened activism and the perception around it.
Most striking though is “Soon You’ll Get Better,” the Dixie Chicks-assisted song that reflects on her mother’s fight with cancer. It’s a song Swift has said was a family discussion and decision to include. During her YouTube special she said the song is still too tough to play.
Taylor’s “love letter to love” takes many forms, some inspiring and some gutting, but it’s always sincere.
“I just think you are what you love,” Swift speaks in the last words of “Daylight” and the last lines of Lover. With that, Lover appears to be unquestionably who Taylor Swift is.
Lover is now available everywhere.