Taylor Swift taps into her joyful side with ‘Lover’

Taylor Swift, “Lover” (Republic Records)

If you want an easy way to see how far Taylor Swift has come since her last album, just compare the two covers. If 2017’s “reputation” featured a photo of Swift unsmiling in black and white, “Lover” is an explosion of color, clouds and sparkles.

The superb new 18-track collection finds Swift looking backward and forward through the lens of love — both present and absent, lustfully and wistfully, friendly and concerned. She calls it a “love letter to love itself.”

It’s a remarkable look at the various hues love can take. A songwriter long associated with bright red is painting now in blues and golds. “I want to be defined by the things I love — not the things I hate,” she writes in the album notes and repeats in the final song, “Daylight.”

For many of the songs, she’s reunited with producer Jack Antonoff. This time, they’ve hacked away at a lot of the previous electronic clutter to show off Swift and her rich pop songwriting.

The album kicks off with the trop-hop “I Forgot You Existed,” which seems to reference her old feud with once-friend Kim Kardashian, whom she slammed in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” Now, with genuine laughter, she admits she’s just indifferent. Chapter closed, moving on.

Most of “Lover” is exuberant and a return to the diaristic Swift of the past. She seems to revel in the hard-fought happiness she’s found with her boyfriend of three years, the Englishman Joe Alwyn, the obvious source of “London Boy.”

The album ends with one of Swift’s most introspective songs, “Daylight,” in which she sings of waking from a 20-year dark night. Now, in the light, she can see “I wounded the good and I trusted the wicked.” On this and all the previous others, she absolutely shines. Mark Kennedy AP, Entertainment Writer

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