Lady Gaga is a forever evolving artist who continues to not only just re-invent herself but also never gives into cliche standards. If you are looking for or wanting a “Bad Romance 2.0” then give up now because you are never going to get one. “Joanne” is Gaga’s fifth studio album and she strips it back and gives you authentic nostalgia. This pop-rock fusion with country influences is raw, gritty in places but still manages to present a polished pop record. That may not make any sense to some of you reading this review but once you listen I think you will get it. The important thing with this record is to go in with no expectations and just let the music and the emotion captivate you. While tracks like “Joanne”, “Million Reasons” and “Angel Down” are not your typical Gaga ballads they will impress and take you on a journey. “Million Reasons” shares the albums strongest country influence but it’s the pure harmonies that will have you hitting replay. “Hey Girl” featuring Florence Welch gives Elton John Vibes and continues to serve strong harmonies before “Come To Mama” serves 70’s swing realness. “Just Another Day” will have you swaying along and transported into a 80’s swing-rock anthem that you wish would be appreciated the way it truly deserves.
It wouldn’t be a Lady Gaga record without a few bops and “John Wayne”, “Dancin In Circles”, “A-YO” and “Perfect Illusion” will have you ready to hit the dance floor. But why she chose “A-YO” over “Dancin In Circles” or “John Wayne” as the next single is a true crime to humanity. I love the rock influence of “Diamond Heart” with its injection of synths and her easily recognisable vocals powering through. But I’m not going to say this album is perfect, because that would be lying. “Sinners Prayer” and “Grigio Girls” are forgettable and could’ve remained unreleased.
This album is going to be received with mixed reviews. Some people are not going to get it and will be stubborn in just wanting a manufactured pop record. But if you’re an actual music fan and can go into listening to this unbiased then you will really appreciate what she’s put together. My main issue with “Artpop” was her vocal delivery as it felt forced and had this low-key annoying monotone to it. But on “Joanne” she finds her voice and gives you some of the strongest vocal deliveries we have heard from her yet.