Written by Leo Baldi
Lady Gaga’s 5th pop album is finally here. Joanne is out now and reviews are flooding in and as with every Gaga release, everybody has an opinion.
First of all, this is Gaga’s follow up to a really uptempo and excessive conceptual project, ARTPOP. Naturally, there were great expectations on the music quality to be more like her older work and on the sales overall, despite the 2.5 million copies that ARTPOP sold, it did not seem appropriate as a follow-up to Born This Way (more than 6 million).
Joanne was written and produced by Gaga, Mark Ronson and BloodPop, together with Josh Homme, Beck, Kevin Parker, Hillary Lindsey, RedOne, Father John Misty and the one and only Florence Welch. It has a very cohesive rock-pop-glam-funk sound and the production is as stripped back as it is explosive and incisive at traits.
The album opener, Diamond Heart is quintessential Gaga with a memorable pre-chorus and a very Fame Monster chorus “Young, wild American, come on baby do you have a girlfriend?” This is definitely one of the standout tracks from the album and sets a very high standard for the rest of the album, which manages to impress just as much.
A-Yo and John Wayne are probably going to end up being fan-favourites because of how danceable they are and the sass in general is very real with these two. The resemblance of A-Yo with one of the best tracks in ARTPOP, MANiCURE, and the rhythm a-la Born This Way of John Wayne are two factors that allow us to sigh in relief for the Gaga ‘comeback’.
Come To Mama and Sinner’s Prayer are very both very impressive, together with Million Reasons and Dancin’ in Circles (written with Beck) where she begs you to “funk” her downtown. Perfect Illusion might seem a little out of place from a very peaceful atmosphere of the album, but it sure is a banger and is still one of the songs I play in the car at night when I’m angry and I just want to drive.
Hey Girl is a stunning Prince-inspired, synths-meet-harp kinda moment and Gaga’s vocals are a perfect match for Florence’s. Joanne is also very stunning in its over-simplistic, quasi-childish way to deal with loss. “My voice gets thin,” sings Gaga in the title track, but her vocals have never sounded so clear and powerful.
Then there’s the last track on the record, Angel Down, and you realise that something is going on behind the scenes and this record is not just a collection of well-produced tracks. Joanne is very sad; probably the most hopeless and nostalgic album that Gaga’s ever done. Joanne, as her, has been alone since track 1, Diamond Heart, to the very end, Angel Down. ”I confess I am lost in the age of the social” and she basically started it. Something’s gone wrong. The only other person in the record is Florence but it still feels like it’s just two people who want to be alone together.
When she sings these songs Gaga sounds like she is gazing at something in her past with a nostalgic eye and then suddenly turns around, puts on her pastel hat and, guitar in hand, sets off in the sunset.
Check out the audio for A-Yo below.