THE last words on Taylor Swift’s triumphant new album Lover are the most significant.
After a tumultuous two years of feuds, very public heartache, silent treatment and – let’s be honest – below par tunes, she declares into a low quality dictaphone at the end of the anthemic final song Daylight: “I want to be defined by the things that I love.
Taylor Swift bares her soul in her brutally honest new album Lover[/caption]
“Not the things I hate, not the things I am afraid of, the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. I just think you are what you love.”
Yup, Tay-Tay is in love. With a London man. With life. With her friends. With her teenage self. And even with her enemies and hated exes. And as a result, I’ve fallen for her all over again.
I’ll admit it hasn’t been an easy couple of years in my love affair with the world’s most talked about popstar.
Reputation felt a little vengeful. That wide eyed innocent talent seemed to have faded, replaced by a score settler, hiding her put-downs in musical code without explanation.
But on Lover there is very little left to the imagination. The collection of 18 genre-busting, sonically thrilling songs are largely to the point and literal lyrically.
As if to illustrate how she’s sharing her inner-most thoughts here, she’s even included a host of real-life, handwritten diary entries in four deluxe versions of the album.
JOE’S THE ONE – I’D MARRY HIM WITH A PAPER RING
Her latest offering is a world away from her last record, Reputation[/caption]
NO theme on Lover is more prominent than her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn, who she not so subtly hints she wants to settle down with.
Stand out track is the modern doo wop electronica fusion Paper Rings, another collaboration with the brilliant Jack Antonoff.
Going back to her first meeting with Joe, she admits she rushed home and “tried to stalk you on the internet.”
After playing “cat and mouse for a month or two or three”, they got serious. And now? “I’d like shiny things but I’d marry you with paper rings.”
Oh, and he features in her “dirty dreams” too apparently. You won’t hear a more joyful Taylor ditty than this.
It’s not all easy going, however. On mid-tempo ballad Cornelia Street – the street of the 1912 New York townhouse she rented at the start of her romance with Joe – she sings of fearing “a heartbreak time could never mend” if he were leading her on.
MY ENEMIES DON’T MEAN ANYTHING TO ME NOW
The popstar opens up about her romance with British actor Joe Alwyn[/caption]
Laying out her new approach from the insanely catchy opener I Forgot You Existed, Taylor finally shakes off her famed enemies – from her schoolyard bullies to Kim and Kanye – with, well, “indifference”.
“Get out some popcorn as soon as my rep started going down. Laughed on the schoolyard as soon as I tripped up and hit the ground,” she sings without any sense of revenge.
It seems she’s been inspired from a diary entry from March 2013 when she vowed: “I don’t care what people think of me now because I won’t let them bring me down.”
I’m relieved she’s finally following her own advice.
AND I REALLY, REALLY LOVE LONDON
And reveals secret trips to London, where her new beau is originally from[/caption]
NO love is more literal than Taylor’s passion for the UK capital.
On London Boy she reveals what I have long suspected – Taylor has been able to live a very normal life here. Without cameras or constant attention.
Idris Elba introduces the album, with a line taken from an interview with James Corden where he speaks of driving around London on a scooter.
Then she goes on to name NINE – yup, for real – of her favourite London suburbs:
1: I enjoy walking Camden Market in the afternoon
2: Took me back to Highgate, met all of his best mates
3: Stories from uni and the West End
4: I enjoy nights in Brixton
5: Shoreditch in the afternoon
6: Please show me Hackney
7: Up on Bond Street
8: On the Heath
9: Walking Soho in the afternoon
I’VE DEALT WITH SO MUCH SEXISM OVER MY CONQUESTS
Taylor also opens up about sexism and discrimination in the music industry[/caption]
The Man is a punchy feminist track Taylor worked on with New Zealand producing powerhouse Joel Little, who found fame working with Lorde.
It’s the album’s lyrical high point.
Tackling the perceived imbalance in the coverage of her romantic relationships compared to a male superstar like, say, Leonardo DiCaprio, she sings: “They would toast to me, oh Let the players play. I’d be just like Leo in St Tropez.
“Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you. I’d be a fearless leader.
“I’d be an alpha type. When everyone believes you. What’s that like?”
And referencing her traumatic court case with a groping US DJ, she adds powerfully: “They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve. What I was wearing. If I was rude.”
PREVIOUS BREAK UPS WERE MY FAULT
And sings candidly about past romances[/caption]
THEN the bombshell. The track I never expected to hear Taylor sing.
On Afterglow, she appears to concede some of HER behaviour has contributed to the breakdown of previous relationships.
She admits to doing these things:
-Put you in jail for something you didn’t do
-Lived like an island
-Punished you with silence
-Went off with sirens, just crying
The other break-up song, Death By A Thousand Cuts, is equally inward looking.
But there’s one spiky lyric when she accuses an ex of “giving up on me like I was a bad drug”. Maybe Calvin Harris isn’t yet forgiven.
AMERICA COULD BURN UNDER TRUMP
But when it comes to politics, she doesn’t hold back from giving her opinion[/caption]
NOW to the only real controversy.
Taylor appears to address her opposition to the incendiary current state of US politics on a song called Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince, where she addresses her patriotism using the analogy of a high school.
Purposely vague, she says: “My team is losing. Battered and bruising. I see the high fives between the bad guys. Leave with my head hung. You are the only one who seems to care. American stories burning before me.”
Not quite a political anthem – but it’s a powerful track musically with a strong beat all the same.
FEAR CANCER WILL TAKE MY MUM – SOON YOU’LL GET BETTER
And in an emotional song, admits her fears for her mother who’s battling cancer[/caption]
TRUE heartbreak comes in the form of Taylor’s most personal ever song, which some have speculated she might never have the strength to sing live.
The Dixie Chicks make their long awaited comeback on a heartbreaking ode to her mum who has been battling cancer called You’ll Get Better Soon.
She sings: “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 is no you.”
“It’s been years of hoping and I keep saying it cause I have to – you’ll get better.”
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It’s 18 tracks long so admittedly there are some fillers – The Archer, False God and It’s Nice To Have A Friend should be bonus tracks.
But it’s made up for with bangers Cruel Summer, I Think He Knows (the last 30 seconds are epic) and gay anthem You Need To Calm Down, better than any single from Reputation.
And, most importantly, the joyous Taylor with wonder in her eyes and a contagious verve for the joy of the every single day has re-emerged.