Lady Gaga is back with her fifth studio album Joanne, (supposedly named after her aunt) and it presents the artist in a whole different light than any of her work before.

In fact, on the surface there is almost nothing that hints at her ‘Mother Monster’ alter ego, which was the persona prevailing in her previous albums. This might be a good change, since Artpop did not live up to the fans’ expectations.

Instead, Gaga appears and sounds a lot more mature and sincere. You can also see the different approach in the tunes. Noticeably, the lack of auto-tuned overlay gives way to the sheer power of her voice that lately she has been so keen on showing off.

And it clearly worked out fine as it was showcased in the album’s very first single, ‘Perfect Illusion’. It is wild, exuberant and passionate. This character resonates through ‘A-YO’, although it is tamer, cheeky and uplifting. In this song, Gaga has supposedly taken shots at The Chainsmokers, for openly saying that her lead single “sucks”, with the very first lines– “I can’t wait to smoke them all / whole pack like Marlboro”.

The rest of the album however is a whole different story. The tracks are strikingly slower and soulful. There are more ballads than in any other of her albums before. Most of them, particularly ‘Joanne’ and ‘Million Reasons’ are deeply reminiscent of ‘Speechless’, in the sense that they express her inner emotions and feelings towards her loved ones in a strongly evocative way. ‘Hey Girl’ is the only collaboration on the album featuring Florence Welch. It is surprising how well the pair’s voices mesh.

While Gaga herself says that the genre of the album is pop, this is vague and a bit of an understatement. It has rock, RnB, disco, jazz, country and last but not least, a sprinkle of pop. In the past she connected with fans through the messages that her music bore; establishing herself as an LGBT icon. This time it is the other way around. With Joanne you can peek behind the madness and flesh dresses into the artist’s feelings and experience them yourself.

At this point it is difficult to say whether stripping off the monster flair was a lucrative move, or whether the new Gaga will appeal to her army of monsters. Her new music is targeted at a more mature and emotionally-literate audience. One thing is for sure, though, with Joanne, she has established herself as one of the most versatile musicians of our time and she is ready to return to the top where she once belonged.

[4star]

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