ALMOST A YEAR AGO, Taylor Swift released Lover, a lively course correction intended, in part, to craft a more measured and mature style for the singer, whose previous album, reputation, had used withering sarcasm and hip-hop production elements to wage war with Swift’s crumbling goody-two-shoes image and the enemies poking holes in the narrative. In the January Netflix documentary Miss Americana, which chronicled the Lover sessions and revisited key career moves in the preceding decade, Swift admitted to being driven, on a certain level, by a hunger for public approval: “My entire moral code is a need to be thought of as good,” she said. 1989’s pop turn was really a quest to be seen as the total package in music, an overcorrection for the embarrassment at the 2009 MTV VMAs. The country era before that had been a bit of an act of folksy people-pleasing too. Lover, it seemed, was the real deal. But even that was a charm offensive of a sort, heralded by blindingly bright music videos and bustling, busy melodies.
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August 3 - 16, 2020