Taylor Swift’s latest album “Lover” was released on August 23, 2019. | Wiki­media Commons

When the last few bars of “Day­light,” the last track of Taylor Swift’s new album, play, a voiceover by Swift begins. 

“I want to be defined by the things I love, not the things I hate,” Swift says.

If defining herself through love was her goal with “Lover,” Swift accom­plished it. “Lover” is without a doubt Swift’s most diverse album with each of the 18 tracks high­lighting Swift’s lyrical genius in a dif­ferent way. Described by Swift as a “love letter to love,” the tracks cover every­thing from her mother’s battle with breast cancer to her rela­tionship with current boyfriend Joe Alwyn.

With seven studio albums now in her reper­toire, Taylor Swift’s music cat­a­logue con­tains some of the most talked about music of the 21st century. Each Swift album has its own theme and central idea, its own era. “Fearless” solid­ified Swift as the teen queen of country music. “Red” sig­naled Swift’s shift from the sweet and naive country artist to an inter­na­tional force of pop. Her sixth album, “Rep­u­tation,” shat­tered her public image as America’s Sweet­heart. Now, with “Lover,” Swift takes the pieces of each of her eras and trans­forms them into a cohesive and diverse doc­u­men­tation of her growth. 

Though Swift has pro­duced hit after hit in both genres throughout her career, “Lover” takes the best aspects of each of her eras and builds upon them, instead of picking one nar­rative and trying to fit inside it, like her past six albums.

“Lover” squashes any spec­u­lation that Swift would con­tinue on the darker tra­jectory of her pre­vious album. The first track of “Lover,” “I Forgot That You Existed,” closes the door on the “Rep­u­tation” era for good. Instead of dwelling on the pain and mis­takes of her past, like “Rep­u­tation” tracks “I Did Some­thing Bad” or “Look What You Made Me Do,” “I Forgot That You Existed” dis­misses all of Swift’s past “haters.” 

“I forgot that you existed. It isn’t love. It isn’t hate. It’s just indif­ference,” she sings. 

Though Swift is still focused on telling off her “haters,” the track’s lyrics are a far cry from the vin­dictive and vit­riolic attitude of “Rep­u­tation.” Swift approaches her past with wisdom and wit that show just how much she’s grown, both musi­cally and per­sonally.

Every “Lover” track also rebuilds on tropes of Swift’s earlier music. Swift’s first few albums con­sisted mostly of high-school-level love songs, like “Teardrops on My Guitar” from her debut, self-titled album, or “Hey Stephen” off her second album, “Fearless.” With songs like “Lover” and “Paper Rings,” Swift explores her expe­ri­ences with real love and rela­tion­ships as usual, but now exhibits her growth in dealing with heart­break. Swift’s breakup songs in her first five albums were often angry and focused on themes of revenge, such as “Picture to Burn” or “Mean.” In con­trast, “Death by a Thousand Cuts” details the grief that comes at the end of a rela­tionship, and how Swift has learned to heal from that heart­break. 

The classic clev­erness of Swift’s lyrics remain — in “Miss Amer­icana and the Heart­break Prince,” Swift explains her view of American pol­itics through a metaphor about American high schools.

“American glory, faded before me. Now I’m feeling hopeless. Ripped up my prom dress,” she sings. 

Though Swift’s lyrics are true to her style, it’s evident that her worldview has changed, and she has grown up.

On the album’s title track “Lover,” Swift sings in the bridge, “Ladies and gen­tlemen, will you please stand with every guitar string scar on my hand?” 

Swift’s years in the music industry have been filled with scars from past loves and past wrongs. But with “Lover,” Swift takes those scars and creates a mas­ter­piece of growth and hope.