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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Emotional lyrics give life to Stefani’s latest

"This is What the Truth Feels Like"

Gwen Stefani

After an almost 10-year break, American singer and songwriter Gwen Stefani released her third solo album, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like,” on March 18. Compared to her earlier happy, pop albums, this emotional and self-aware album reflects on the time she’s had to think about life and to integrate her feelings into her songs, as the title of the album suggests.

The tracks on this album not only have honest lyrics in which Stefani is coming to terms with a broken relationship, but they also serve to mend those wounds. In a way, there is a healing process going on between the lyricist and the listener, who is able to find solace in her words and, in a sense, relates to a universal struggle of heartbreak. Despite this, it seems like Stefani is in a neutral or even a happy state as a few of the songs, such as “Make Me Like You,” sound like they were made from a benevolent and retrospective viewpoint.

“Used to Love You” was the first single to be released ahead of the album this past October and a highlight of “This Is What the Truth Feels Like.” It has a strong, resounding sound and message and deals with Stefani’s central issue: having to come to terms with a relationship that has come to an end. The lyrics have a certain organic quality, and the track sounds as though Stefani is reflecting in real time to her loss. While it is a purely confessional track, it still has a hopeful perspective in its lyrics.

Another song on the album, “Misery” features a similar background beat, revisited from the 1995 hit “Just A Girl” that Stefani co-wrote and sang as a member of the rock band No Doubt. One of her strengths as a songwriter is being able to articulate her feelings and thoughts in a natural way, a technique that is explored here. Stefani’s track “Truth” has a fluid beat and tempo and a versatile sound that is unconfined. It simultaneously has a sweet and optimistic vibe that is effortlessly able to come through. The dance-pop sounds in these songs have a slight control over the lyrics, but the meaning behind the words can still be felt and heard underneath.

The second single to be released off this album, “Make Me Like You” has a contrasting sound with the previous songs and is more bold and energetic. It definitely has a more lighthearted and carefree theme that is undeniable. It is catchy and captivating, demanding the listener do just that: listen. It has a certain generic appeal. Everyone will appreciate this single, and it will fit comfortably on the top of the charts.  

In this album, Stefani was candidly able to tap into her raw emotion, re-establishing herself following a recent divorce. Because of its universal relatability when it comes to its subject matter, Stefani has created a collection of songs all listeners will enjoy, including longtime fans and new listeners alike. She’s not tied down by focusing on one feeling in particular. She is able to explore a range of emotions, from being heartbroken to being in a state of rejoicement and bliss, and everything in between.