Three years since her last album ARTPOP, Lady Gaga has finally returned to the pop music sphere with a 14-track album filled with stripped vocals, mixed genres and amazing collaborations featuring Beck and Florence Welch.
After the lukewarm reaction that ARTPOP received from critics, the 30-year-old popstar has returned with an album that feels less theatric and strangely nuanced. Stripping away the dramatics and outrageousness, Joanne feels like a more mature side of Stefani Germanotta in comparison to the artist’s last few albums. With songs like “Joanne” and “Angel Down,” Gaga ditches the frenetic production and opts for songs that have deeper meanings. For example, “Angel Down” is a song about Trayvon Martin and the lack of direction from political leaders in an age of continued violence.
But classic Gaga still pokes her face in the album from time to time. While songs like “A-YO” have a country rock sound, the overall vibe and frenetic energy remind us that the craziness and theatrical tendencies still reside in Gaga. And that theatricality is still prevalent in songs like “Dancin’ In Circles,” a song co-written by Beck that features a magnetic and kooky energy that fans have come to expect from the superstar.
But while you can compliment some of the old-fashioned songs, some tracks just don’t necessarily hit the mark.
“Angel Down (Work Tape)” is unnecessary filler to the album. While it’s cool to include a demo of a song and show your fans the different stages of process that a song goes through, the actual track just sits there and doesn’t contribute much to the album. The same could be said for “Come to Mama,” a Motown inspired track that is cool in a vintage way but automatically feels dated after a few listens.
But the few imperfections aren’t big enough to sabotage the overall album. Joanne features an artist who is at the point in their career where they care less about nabbing a few more top 10 hits and are more concerned with leaving behind a strong body of work. Joanne might not be perfect, but what album is? In an age of manufactured pop and perfected vocals and beats, Lady Gaga has delivered an album that at the very least feels fresh.
Joanne is out now in stores and is available to stream on Amazon Music, Apple Music and Spotify