Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’ isn’t subtle at all, it holds its cards close to its chest and holds roots with performance, musical theatre and pop art. The album itself is stripped down, raw and emotional.
The opening track ‘Diamond Heart’ is a throwback to her 2011 album ‘Born This Way’, it’s rowdy and energetic, a great way to start off the album. Moving swiftly onto the next track, ‘A-YO’ is more upbeat and instead of using guitars, uses synths instead as if she’s paying homage to the gone but never forgotten classic songs of the 80’s.
Sliding slowly into ‘Joanne’ – coincidentally the name off the album, this track takes the country route, pulling back on the percussion and stripping down Gaga’s vocals to something naked and gritty, husky over softly strummed guitars.
‘John Wayne’ to me is the most disjointed song on the album but in a way, it fits her style – it’s not perfect and it’s a bit messy, but it’s heartfelt and honest.
‘Hey Girl’ and ‘Dancin’ In Circles’ are two songs on the album that promote self-worth and self-love. With the assistance of Florence Welch’s vocals, both songs exude confidence with a hint of naughtiness.
My least favourite and her first single ‘Perfect Illusion’ holds that candle to Madonna’s early work, and although it might be a fun sing along after you’ve heard 5 times already on the radio, it’s definitely a song I would purposefully skip if it came on shuffle.
‘Million Reasons’ is my absolute favourite as slow ballads will always have a special place in my heart. She’s laying herself out bare for everyone to see, and the lyrics will always hit home for anyone who’s going through a tough breakup or doesn’t know where they really stand with someone. The piano along with her flawless vocals will quickly become a fast favourite for anyone who’s listening.
‘Sinner’s Prayer’ is another ode to country music. It’s plucky, gritty and deep. Unlike ‘Perfect Illusion’, it’s definitely a song to play more than once. ‘Come to Mama’ reminds me of an old song you’d play on the record player, it holds a lot of passion and soul, with a dash of timeless nostalgia.
The final song on the album, ‘Angel Down’ is more of a prayer than a song. Close your eyes and imagine this song playing on a period drama, it has a typically western sound to it, it’s slow and methodical, a sombre way to end her album but it works.
Overall, ‘Joanne’ is a mash up of different styles, and more of a portfolio of how many sounds she can achieve in one album with that constant trickling of fluid sexuality running throughout. It’s probably one of the sincerer albums she has and it’s refreshing to see this side of the Mother Monster.