The Renegade Rip

‘Joanne’ is Gaga at her best

J. R. Hensley, Reporter

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On Oct. 21, Lady Gaga released the album I have been waiting for since I finally broke down and accepted her into my life.

I had resisted for so long because I thought her songs were superficial fluff and her voice was, like most pop stars, just as fake as the songs.

I discovered that she was in fact incredible when I looked up some of her clips on YouTube singing with just a piano, the club beats stripped away. It was then that I realized this girl had an amazing set of pipes. And apart from some of the other lamer songs on her first and subsequent albums, she had a level of poetry to her lyrics.

Her newest release, “Joanne,” is as incredible as those YouTube clips, because it has her voice at center stage instead of the poppy, techno-like music.

The cover of the album prepares the listener for the Gaga they are about to get. It lacks the usual Avant-garde cabaret art she is known for. How could anyone forget the meat dress?

But just like the cover art showing her in profile with a pink hat, her songs are stripped away and it is just her. The best example of that on the release is “Million Reasons,” featuring Gaga, a piano, and a guitar.

There has been some discouraging mumbling around the net saying it is a country album, but to call Lady Gaga’s album “country” would be insulting to her and giving the country sound more credit than it’s due. Don’t get me wrong, the music of the heartland can be good, but this album is head and shoulders above that genre. Also, sticking it to only one category ignores the wide range of sounds that this album covers.

Really the only song that could be called country is the titular “Joanne.” While for me this was one of the weaker songs on the album, it is still solid. It brings to mind something Stevie Nicks would have sung, and that is some high praise.

That is one of the most interesting aspects of the whole album, some of the songs pull up memories of music past, which could be dangerous if not done well. But it is. Listening to “Come to Mama,” an upbeat and fun song telling everyone to get along, is reminiscent of the Supremes or Lesley Gore. Then there is the song destined to be the reining champ of karaoke nights, “Hey Girl” that features Florence Welch, from Florence and the Machine, with a balanced duet under a funk sound.

The only downside of the album is that it is too short. However, I think that is due to the fact it is such a departure from her previous records that she very well may be treading lightly. For some artists, breaking from tradition could be damaging to their careers and they spend the bulk of their time trying to recapture that spark. “Joanne” is definitely not that.

 

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‘Joanne’ is Gaga at her best