February 7, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 43°F


Review: Pop diva reclaims the stage

"Closer the the Truth"


Amid an army of copycats and wannabes, a deep-voiced diva rises above the rest to prove there is only room for one goddess of pop. That goddess is Cher, and her reclamation of the pop throne is heralded by her 25th studio album, “Closer to the Truth.”

Making a comeback after 12 years without releasing new material is difficult, but Cher knows a thing or two about staging a reinvention. Adorning herself with a shameless flair for melodrama, Cher has created a disco-tinged love letter to the dance floor. Nearly every song is an exercise in kitsch and camp, particularly the spectacle that is “Dressed to Kill.” When this lady says dressed to kill, she actually means it. Clever lyrics, such as “Dancing in the dark with my hands around your heart/ Heads will roll and blood will spill,” are accentuated by a grinding house beat and robotic auto-tuned vocals a la ’90s smash hit “Believe.”

The production, in fact, establishes the sort of contrast that makes “Closer” a deliciously eclectic listen. From the swirling disco strings and towering synths featured on the vampire-themed “Lovers Forever,” to the restrained orchestral sounds on the touching ballad “Sirens,” no theatrics are left unexplored, stamping the album as unmistakably Cher.

The songwriters, which include P!nk and Wayne Hector, master the themes of survival and control. Take the latter’s “Favorite Scars,” a folk-rock narrative that positions Cher as a wise sage, proclaiming to her listener that “love is a sword when you’ve got no defense/ Love is the rock we throw ourselves against.” The best lyrical content shines through in the P!nk-penned country crooner “Lie to Me,” when Cher sings somberly over a bevy of slide guitars and mid-tempo drums, wondering “Is this all common now?/ Where’s that fairy tale that sold us out?” While Cher has never been afraid to speak her mind, lyrics like these contribute depth to the album by reminding the listener that no struggle to survive goes without its consequences.

The album’s lyrics combined with Cher’s committed vocals make for a dynamic collection of songs that constitute the perfect soundtrack for a night on the town, from getting down at the club to the pained goodbyes of the morning after.