Taylor Swift’s “The Archer” Is an Emotionally Self-Reflective Preview for ‘Lover’

Taylor Swift
A departure in tone from her recent singles, Taylor Swift’s “The Archer” has listeners convinced there is more heartfelt music on its way.
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Stream: “The Archer” – Taylor Swift


The anticipation for Taylor Swift’s new album Lover has been building since the release of her candy-coated single “Me!” which left a cloyingly sweet aftertaste seemingly without much room for seconds. However, after a 12-minute Instagram video where Swift dove into how the fifth tracks on her recent albums are her most personal songs, (“Delicate”, “All Too Well”) she released “The Archer,” an emotionally warm, self-reflective ballad that will land itself the “Track 5” slot on her new album, and has reignited excitement about her upcoming work.

The Archer - Taylor Swift

The Archer – Taylor Swift

It was refreshing to see Swift use her other recent single, “You Need to Calm Down,” to make a political statement about allowing people to be who they are, much the way Lady Gaga embraced people along the gender and sexuality spectrums in “Born This Way” back in 2011. Swift rarely touches on hot-button issues and stays in the realm of love lost and gained, but she appears to be presenting an album that bridges that gap by using the ways in which she’s struggled to build her identity, as an influence on how we need to accept one another.


“The Archer” is where Swift allows the innermost pages of her diary to spill out, giving the listener insight into how she internalizes her publicized relationships and image, with a much less abrasive tone than the overall takeaway from Reputation. The song is, despite its solemnness, light and airy in its sound, with warm musical undertones and Swift’s breathy vocals singing about how she is always ready to defend herself because of all she’s been through, but how that sometimes leads to broken hearts, loneliness, and a lack of trust.

Combat, I’m ready for combat
I say I don’t want that, but what if I do?
I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey
Who could ever leave me darling,
But who could stay?
Lover - Taylor Swift

Lover – Taylor Swift


She also seems to ask if maintaining that wall is worth it, as it represents a certain amount of strength, but simultaneously builds an emotionally impenetrable barrier. Perhaps the most effective lyric in the song is that where Swift quotes the child’s rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” and recognizes that building connections with others means exposing vulnerabilities that you can’t hide again after a relationship ends. She seems to be wrestling with idea that in order to maintain meaningful relationships in our lives, we have to both be willing to let people in, but also be guarded about who we trust. And then we have to learn how to push past both of those decisions in order to grow.

All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put me back together again
‘Cause all of my enemies started out friends
Help me hold on to you

“The Archer” is well-developed in its lyrical depth and mid-tempo sound, and it leaves the listener ready for more, come Swift’s release of her album Lover on August 23, 2019.

Stream: “The Archer” – Taylor Swift

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Melanie Lustig is a writer and teacher in New York City. In addition to encouraging middle schoolers to become the best readers and writers they can be, she has a degree in Arts Journalism from The Newhouse School at Syracuse University which has fueled her passion for writing about music, drama, and dance. She is an unapologetic lover of old music, but she is always up for something new to sing (or dance) along to!