ALBUM REVIEW: Demi Lovato – Dancing With The Devil… The Art Of Starting Over

Demi Lovato’s personal journey has been one that has lived out quite publicly through tabloids which has then fed back through the transparent lens of her music. But never before as she been as honest and vulnerable as she has been on her newly released seventh studio album. 

‘Dancing With The Devil… The Art Of Starting Over’ takes the listener on a journey of reflection, understanding, and re-building. Addressing her overdose, rehab, eating disorder and heartbreak, she peels everything back and lets the music tell her story so candidly. The album also acts as the unofficial soundtrack to her YouTube doco series ‘Dancing With The Devil’ that addresses all these elements visually. 

Opening with the gut-wrenching ballad ‘Anyone’, she immediately sets the level of vulnerability and intimacy that further unravels on this record. Telling her story of overdosing through ‘Dancing With The Devil’ and ‘ICU (Madison’s Lullabye), this acts as the prelude to the rest of the record as the overdose was only the beginning. She hit rock bottom, and now it was time for her to rebuild and grow, and that is where ‘The Art Of Starting Over’ begins. With the title track bringing back a bit of bounce to the production, there is a lighter approach that resembles this shift in mindset. 

Sonically this record is Lovato’s most mature offering yet, and it hears her finding a new soul in an alt-pop sound that is an evolution from ‘Tell Me You Love Me’. Don’t expect to find any big pop bangers on the record like ‘Sorry Not Sorry’, ‘Cool For The Summer’, or ‘Heart Attack’, because that is not what this album is. However there are some more playful offerings with the meeting devil track ‘Met Him Last Night’ featuring Ariana Grande, the fuck you song to her fame hunting ex ’15 Minutes’, the anthemic ‘Lonely People’, and the empowering ‘My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriend’ feating Saweetie. And then you have the pop-rock inspired ‘Melon Cake’ which is contrasted with this upbeat production, but behind it all she details parting ways with her old management and the control that was held over her eating disorder. “And now I’m saying no more melon cakеs on birthdays, No more barricades in doorways. Finally get to do things my way” she sings. But it’s the lyric “Dear little me, I’m sorry that it took so long. But baby, you’re free” that will really hit you right in the feelings. 

The candid nature of the songwriting is what will really hit you the hardest when listening to this record. It’s all so honest, candid and relatable. ‘The Way You Don’t Look At Me’ standouts out with its commentary on being in a relationship where the person is falling out of love with you and isn’t fixated on everything you do like they used to. Using this to reflect on her battle with an eating disorder and overdose, she explains how this hurts more. “Cause when you say nothing, It’s much worse than things I’ve overcome. And this hurts harder than my time in heaven. You don’t think I see the way you don’t look at me” she sings. ‘Carefully’ then shows another side of her vulnerability with the prospect of new love and having to put trust in someone new after being hurt so much in the past. “So babe, if you think you can handle me, please handle me carefully. Cause I’m strong in a way that I know how to show you my fragile. She’ll be gone in a minute, If you don’t think you’re lucky to have her”. 

‘Dancing With The Devil… The Art Of Starting Over’ is a masterclass of songwriting with a team of collaborators that spell out the A-List of pop helping her shape her story including; Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Warren Felder, Caroline Pennell, Michael Pollack, and Lauren Aquilina. This whole record is intimate, honest, candid and beautiful, with 19 songs that hone all of those sentiments. It marks a new beginning for Demi Lovato and it’s one that looks bright and positive, as well reflective of the past she’s had. 

Must Listen Tracks: ‘The Way You Don’t Look At Me’, ‘Carefully’, ‘Easy’, ‘Met Him Last Night’