Review Summary: Some kind of monster.
Is Lady Gaga one of those extremely popular artists to get lucky with their debut" The type of artist who sets the world on fire with their first LP and then proceeds to spend the rest of their career consistently writing below par music for the rest of their days, while the rabid fanbase follows them the whole way wearing nostalgia-tinted glasses, hoping for something halfway decent. Given, when it comes to pop artists in today's world, Lady Gaga is definitely an artist who doesn't conform to the masses, and certainly stands out from the herd. However, despite Lady Gaga's unqiue style, she has been one of those artists; both Born This Way
and Art Pop
lack the same level of quality found on The Fame
, with every release gradually dipping in quality. The positive reception she's received in recent years from her acting career is ironic, because while she gains a reputation being an actress, she's losing touch in the place she first started; not quite as relevant as she once was, and with every misfire dimming her light. Many would assume it's time for a change, and I think even Stefani has realised this.
So, three years on from the terribly average Art Pop
, and we're receiving an album that not only reinvents Lady Gaga, but brings the same level of excitement her debut brought her, albeit in a much more subtle way. You see, a lot of what makes Joanne
so entertaining is that it isn't really a pop album; sure, the album holds some shallow lyrics and the odd electronic beat known for the genre, ala "Diamond Heart" and "A-YO", but Joanne
has so much more to offer music lovers. Generally there is a larger focus on a folk-rock style. She's always toyed with the style in the past, but it has more of a dominating hold here; with guitars and drums being the main stay for the album. But it isn't just the fact she's gone for a complete overhaul with her writing style, she's using these new tools to create an LP that's a little more eclectic and diverse: the folky "John Wayne" and "MIllion Reasons"; the ballad "Angel Down"; the western twang of "Sinners Prayer" working in harmony with the electronics and piano create such a satisfying vibe -- one that pretty much rolls up all of the album's tones and condenses it into one track; or the up-beat "Come to Mama" that starts with a staccato kind of rhythm, before coming in with a crescendo of horns and a really soft chorus; it's all fantastic writing, and extremely refreshing stuff to hear from her.
It's just an all-round breath of fresh air compared to what she's been releasing in recent years, and it works very well for her. Even the likes of "Dancing in Circles", which HEAVILY uses Madonna's style -- to the point of near plagiarization -- is still highly entertaining stuff. At this point, it's so well known she admires Madonna that she doesn't so much steal the sound, as she does makes it her own. Her approach to lyrics on here is one of complete simplicity for the most part. The album's single "Perfect Illusion" is an extreme example of how she goes about the approach: it's the most repetitive song on the album lyrically, as she just sings "it was a perfect illusion", but the interesting idea doesn't fall on the lyrics so much as it does her approach to focusing on the melodies that go with the repetitive lyrics: it's the many layers, vocal melodies and variations from her impressive range that stop the track being mundane, and it also brings an interesting amount of dynamics to the song.
Overall, it's a funny one, because Joanne
doesn't really reach out to the typical mainstream audience in the spade loads, it's a pretty reserved kind of album and for that, it might go over some of her fanbase. She's used a sound best described as melding Neil Young and Lana Del Ray together whilst using some of her usual elements; there is some nice dark touches to this record as well as all the beauty and positivity that goes with her records normally. So for those expecting a return to her electronic, dance roots, they might be a little disappointed by what they find here. But for those who like pop music with a little bit more about it, this is one of the best records to come from the genre in 2016, and most definitely the best thing she's done since her debut.
Editions: MP3, C̶D̶
Special Edition: N/A