Cher triumphantly proclaims, "This is a woman's world!" on the pulsating opening track of Closer to the Truth, setting the take-no-prisoners tone of the star’s first new album in 12 years. But Cher is no ordinary woman. On Closer to the Truth, Cher, whose career spans nearly six decades and a whopping 26 studio albums, proves yet again that she is the ageless living-legend diva.
The contemporary pop landscape is littered with girls like Ke$ha and Britney Spears, whose careers depend on Auto-Tune because they can’t sing to save their lives, or those like Christina Aguilera or Lady Gaga, who have vocal chops but try too desperately to infuse their tracks with forced, overproduced "fun." And of course, there’s Madonna, whose 2012 MDNA had some gems but generally revealed a woman who seems hesitant to tackle mature material. (Does anyone think a 55-year-old mother of four is cool when she spells "love" L-U-V, even if she's arguably the world's biggest pop star?)
So what if Lady Gaga didn’t let Cher include their duet because Gaga didn’t like it? "I Walk Alone," Cher tells us three-fourths of the way through Closer to the Truth, though she impresses us with her independence long before that. The progenitor of Auto-Tune is at it again, but unlike Ke$ha or Britney, Cher uses the effect purely for fun. Her unique, powerful voice shines through on most of the album’s dance tracks, especially on the ballads that round out the track list. The dance tracks are vibrant and contemporary, while the ballads are classic Cher, building on the work of her long career. Every track is exceptional, and none can be skipped. Gaga who?
Truth offers a lesson for every starlet, and a favorite song for every fan. "Take It Like A Man" is a riveting anthem in which Cher reminds us that she's, "seen and done" too much to give her love to just anyone — something that Madonna wasn’t able to convey with her immature song, "Give Me All Your Luv." Outmatching the song’s synthesizers, Cher’s powerful, truthful delivery of broken-hearted anguish on "Red" is what Christina Aguilera’s "Your Body" could and should have been. With a little help from Pink (who penned the song), "I Walk Alone" is a bold, fun country-pop fusion that’s one the record’s standouts. "Favorite Scars," a mid-tempo song about the triumphs and failures of love, reminds us of all that Cher has been through, and "Sirens" and "Lie To Me" (also penned by Pink) demonstrate how heartfelt she can be. Another standout is "Lovers Forever," a song Cher originally cowrote for the Interview with a Vampire soundtrack. It’s a perfect fusion of campy 90s pop and new millennium, post-EDM sensibilities.
Closer to the Truth has been something like three years in the making, and it shows. Cher presents a fun but thoughtful, youthful but mature collection of material that thrills and moves listeners. She’s a woman who’s been, "torn up, busted, taken apart," but she’s survived and thrived, and wants us all to know.
It truly is Cher’s world!