They netted themselves a big one. For years now, NPR has been bringing in musicians for its Tiny Desk Concerts, a great simple-idea video series where those musicians sit behind a really-not-that-tiny desk and have to figure out new ways to showcase their songs. It makes perfect sense that Taylor Swift would want to take part in this. And now she has.
Swift, of course, just released her Lover album a couple of months ago. It’s a slick, expensive pop album, just as all of Swift’s recent albums have been. But the songs themselves are smart and sturdy and often vulnerable. Swift has long been interested in finding way to show just how simple and personal and well-written her songs are; on her 1989 album, for example, she included a bunch of bonus-tracks phone-recorded acoustic demos, basically just to reassure the world that yes, she really did write these songs. And the Tiny Desk Concert was the same type of deal.
At the beginning of her Tiny Desk Concert, Swift said, “I just decided to kind of take this as an opportunity to show you guys how the songs sounded when I first wrote them. So it’s just me. There’s no dancers. Unfortunately.” She performed without backing musicians, moving back and forth between voice and guitar, and she played three songs from Lover — “The Man,” the title track, and “Death By A Thousand Cuts” — not all of which were the obvious solo-acoustic songs she could’ve done. (“Soon You’ll Get Better” would’ve crushed, but it makes sense if she’s not ready to sing that one in front of people.)
Swift also did fun VH-1 Storytellers things between the songs, talking about what led her to write these particular tracks. And after singing those three Lover songs, she also resurrected her 2012 song “All Too Well,” which might well be the best song she’s ever written. The whole time, she’s lively and engaging and personable, and we get to see just how connected she is to these songs. It’s a lot of fun to behold. Watch the whole Tiny Desk Concert below.
Lover is out now on TS/Republic. Respect motherfucking craft.