By Aaron Hartley–
Lady Gaga doesn’t need an introduction at this point. She is one of the most successful pop stars of all time, with a slew of hits under her belt.
After her last pop record “Artpop” received mixed reviews in 2013, she slowed down on her album output. This was a great move.
In the past few years, she has won a Golden Globe for acting in “American Horror Story,” received an Academy Award nomination for the song “‘Til it Happens to You” and she signed on to play the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show.
Amidst these slew of successes is Gaga’s latest record, “Joanne.” Named after her late aunt, the album is meant as a tribute not only to her, but to family in general. As a result, “Joanne” is much more personal and introspective than any of her albums so far.
Ballads like “Million Reasons” and “Grigio Girls” and the title track are easily the best songs on the album, as well as the dance track “A-YO.” The tracks drip with feeling, and are the best for showcasing Gaga’s insane vocal prowess and admirable songwriting ability.
“Million Reasons” is a simple piano and acoustic track with disarming and lovely lyrics.
“Joanne” is experimental in nature, with the genre constantly bouncing from the electronic pop she’s famous for to country and soft rock, giving the sense that she’s really trying to branch out. It works, but only in pieces. Some tracks are fantastic, while others, while occasionally pretty, are mostly boring and feel a little uninspired. Others like “John Wayne” and “Sinner’s Prayer” sort of work. While catchy and fun, the lyrics can range from cheesy to cliché.
The spotty use of genres make the album feel disjointed a bit too. Of course, experiments aren’t meant to fully succeed.
“Joanne” isn’t Gaga’s best album or one of the best albums of the year, but she takes a lot of chances on it. That, in itself, is admirable. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but when it works, it really works. There are bouts of real passion in this record and it does a good job of not only of displaying how talented of a singer Gaga is, but how much she really loves music. From this album, it’s clear how much she wants to evolve her sound and image.