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Taylor Swift dropped her highly anticipated album "Lover," which includes a collaboration with the Dixie Chicks and some juicy lyrical references. USA TODAY

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Critics are falling in love with Taylor Swift's latest album "Lover."

Her highly anticipated seventh studio album, which released Friday, is a sprawling 18-track effort that has been received well by reviewers.

USA TODAY's music critic Maeve McDermott called "Lover" a "less focused and more openhearted" project than anything she’s released since her 2012 album “Red."

"The joyfully unfocused and unburdened songs on 'Lover' establish the end of (a) turbulent era of the artist’s life and the beginning of a new period of calm," McDermott continued.

Reviewers agreed that "Lover" showed a new side of Swift, leading to a positively free and calm sound – even if it wasn't perfect.

Our full review: Taylor Swift is a kid again on 'Lover,' a big, messy embrace of a new album

Here are more excerpts from noteworthy reviews:

Variety

"Even as the romantic reveries keep on coming, she can’t help recalling just how effed up things were in prior situations, and just how concerned she is about effing up this one, too — and this minor war between past doubts and current happiness adds sophisticated lyrical shadings to what is, in large part, sure, one big pop bubblegum blast of a record. It’s an album with a lot of froth to it, but weighted froth — her most mature collection as well as her most fun one." 

Rolling Stone

"'Lover' is, fittingly, evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But nevertheless it feels like an epiphany: free and unhurried, governed by no one concept or outlook, it represents Swift at her most liberated, enjoying a bit of the freedom she won for her cohort."

Time

"Its whopping 18-track length spans the gamut from earnest, twangy love songs to unapologetically bubblegum anthems. But what its songs all share is glossy production and an energy that feels like pure distilled Swift: A pop star who — over a career that’s spanned thirteen years, seven albums and at least a dozen songs that have become immortalized in pop culture iconography — has proven herself one of her generation’s strongest songwriters and savviest public-relations navigators."

The Independent

"'Lover,' her new, seventh album, feels like a partial resurrection of the Swift of old: moony romance and earnest earworms abound... There is a brilliant album among the 18 songs, if only it had been pruned a little. But Swift has never been one to hold back, and it’s hard to resent her for it. This is the sound of a singer excited to be earnest again."

Billboard

"As a pop record of varying tempo, the pieces don’t always fit seamlessly, but Swift’s steadiness as a writer is enough connective tissue to prevent any jarring transitions or notable swoons across the track list. Free of expectation or any real narrative outside of her own making, she basically spends 'Lover' doing what she wants, when she wants, dialing up the intensity in places and offering some of the most straightforward song structures of her career in others."

Forbes

"'Lover' is a whole lot of album to process, but it's not exhausting, per se. Rather, it's musically and lyrically rich, fulfilling in the same way that staying up all night and having a heart-to-heart conversation with an old friend is. Swift sounds comfortable enough in her own skin to invite listeners into her orbit more than ever. She proves once and for all she's a lover, not a fighter."

Taylor Swift's 'Lover' Easter eggs: Which fan theories were right and which were way off?

Taylor Swift's 'Lover': The juiciest lyrical references, from Kanye West to Leonardo DiCaprio

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