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Reviews of New Cher Album

TargetcoverWhat a daunting task. Approaching my first Cher album on a blog post. The ritual of listening to a new Cher album and reading the liner notes is one of my favorite Cher things to do. But how many times do you need to listen to a new album before reviewing it? My friend asked me that last week and I didn't have an answer.

As it is, I've listened to it about six or seven times. And a few days ago I went online to read the reviews, which stretch the gamut from perfect to flawed-but-okay.

Cher Zombies who love dance mostly love it entirely. Cher Zombies who yearn for country, rock or torch seem to like it well enough. And some Cher fans feel even a bad Cher song is a good Cher song. I kinda feel this way to some degree although I like to categorize. I'm a sorter by nature and so within the parameter of even a bad Cher song being a good Cher song, some Cher songs are surely better than others.

First I'll summarize my reaction to some music reviews out there:

Allmusic: After half a decade [I think he means "century"] in the music industry, it's amazing that Cher is still making records in 2013. That Closer to the Truth is any good at all is even more shocking...the album has a fully modern sound, a large portion of the songs...are hooky and fun, and her voice, aided by technology or not, still carries a lot of weight and power...the whole batch of songs packs a big, glittery punch. Cher sounds absolutely in her element with these songs and her thundering vocals fit perfectly in the mix. After a campy, banjo-led romp that sounds like someone tried to fuse Mumford & Sons with the Scissor Sisters ("I Walk Alone"), the second half heads deep into some heavy adult contemporary sounds. The final four songs are stripped down a little, built on acoustic guitars and strings, and played for maximum drama with Cher emoting for all she's worth, only a little more quietly. These songs aren't as successful, thanks to the somewhat syrupy melodies and clichéd lyrics, but also because Cher's vocals sound a little worn and frayed around the edges. It's not terrible by any stretch, but the first half of the album is so much fun that this half suffers in comparison. An entire album of disco ball-shattering dance songs may have been too much and worn out its welcome. Too bad Cher and her team didn't give it a shot, though. Maybe sometime in the next 50 years...."

My response: The songs are fun and her voice carries power. Interesting comment about Mumford & Sons. However, I disagree that the second half is not as successful. Some of my favorite songs are in the second half. I do agree that the lyrics in the album are, overall, clichéd and not as strong as her last three albums or the Stuck On You song "Human." I don't believe her voice is frayed about the edges. In fact, I think she's stronger around the edges than ever. She's paying much more attention to the small, ends and fades and sounds great. I did not want a full album of dance tracks and I don't know anybody who did.

New York Daily News: “Surrender to me!” commands Cher on her first album in 12 years. And who are we to disobey? When it comes to Cher, resistance has always been futile. Her work is beyond good and evil, or, more to the point, beyond any simple distinctions between sincerity and camp. The first half of the new CD finds Cher throwing herself into gauchely dated dance music with irresistible passion. The latter sees her gorging with delight on the most bloated of ballads. It’s at once tacky and enthralling, full of crazed, ’80s echo, kitschy passion and a sense of overstatement that’s too furious to be denied. And then there’s Cher’s retains its bizarre allure. Cher’s vibrato may sound like someone getting whiplash, and her phrasing can, at times, mimic a horse’s whinny, but it’s informed by a Mae West swagger, and an ability to belt that can rivet. It’s utterly distinct and brimming with character...The disco songs, while danceworthy, miss the clubby genius of “Believe.”

My response: I agree these songs are very commanding and aggressive which does make this album her most campy. I do feel the dance tracks sound dated (although this reviewer loves that), but I don't feel the ballads are all bloated. "Sirens" and "My Favorite Scars" are anything but bloated. They harken back to "Young and Pretty" from Black Rose without the belting. She does infuse an element of Mae West in everything she does, however. I see this more clearly after watching about 15 episodes of Sadie Thompson vamping on Sonny & Cher shows. Her voice does brim with character but I agree in that I don't believe this set lives up to the "clubby genius" of either Believe or Son of Believe. ...she sounds more convincing than J-Lo or Madonna reporting from “the club” on the Oakenfold-fueled single “Woman’s World” that opens her new album. While “Closer to the Truth” is smartly frontloaded with a heap of glossy South Beach bangers – including the fiery, heavenly heave of “Take It Like A Man,” the noir throb of “Dressed to Kill,” and “Red,” which hits you like a rum punch to the face — the second wind of her twenty-sixth album, presumably designed for the drive home from the club, seems to insist that she’s more than a remix ingredient or Auto-tune fodder.

My response: I do think these dance songs are South Beach bangers and fun, good ones at that. And that's all they are. I like the idea of the second half being designed to get you home at 3 in the morning. She is more than a remix ingredient. Well said.

GPhilly:  Cher’s success has come from (and in many cases, despite) her doing whatever the hell she wants. So in Closer to the Truth I was looking for something brave, something new, something out of the box, here in the latter stages of her storied career. What I got was, well, not that. Closer to the Truth? More like Recycled from the Nineties.  The “truth” is that the best song on the CD is the one that isn’t on it, the unreleased but leaked “The Greatest Thing,” a duet with Lady Gaga that had gays foaming at the mouth when this summit of the titans was announced...While those who have heard (and illegally downloaded) the track may agree it’s not, well, the greatest thing, it’s certainly better than most of Closer to the Truth. “The Greatest Thing,” produced by RedOne, boasts an impossibly catchy hook and vocals by two of the biggest divas in the universe, and would no doubt have rocketed to the top of the charts and radio airplay even if it is, as one online commenter noted, something that sounds like a Disney princess anthem. I have to admit: I’ve been listening to it for weeks.

Which makes what did make it onto Closer to the Truth that much more frustrating. In fairness...she sounds fucking amazing. But the first single, “Woman’s World,” is a good foreshadowing of the CD’s entire content: loud, brash, and, frankly, dull. We’ve heard this all before: In “Song for the Lonely,” in “Strong Enough,” in “If I Could Turn Back Time.” They’ve all begun to blend together. In 1998 "Believe" was a breakout, a departure at the time (and a long-overdue gift to her gay fan base), and possibly the best album of her career. (Though I personally anoint 1995’s forgotten It’s a Man’s World, a haunting, gorgeous collection of cover ballads, for this honor.) But in recycling "Believe" yet again some 15 years later, Cher is binge-drinking at the Fountain of Youth. As with her film career, she’s missed a golden opportunity to get it right, to do something unexpected or surprising.

At its heart Closer to the Truth is a dance album and not a terrible one, just a disappointing one. “Woman’s World” will no doubt become a staple of sloppy bachelorette parties, and the equally grooving “Take It Like a Man” an overt wink to the gay boys who have kept Cher afloat for decades, even if the whole song sounds like she’s trapped in that plexiglass booth she stood in for the “Believe” video. If there is one glaring flaw with the up-tempo numbers on Truth, it’s the ghastly overdubbing, trickery, and steroidal Vocoder use that at times makes Cher sound like an alien. What was novel and unique on “Believe” now just sounds tired and so 1998.

The CD’s clunkers are on its first half: the forgettable “Lovers Forever,” which Cher co-wrote (I’ve listened to it five times now and still can’t recall the melody); and “Red,” which features — wait for it — Cher seemingly rapping (’nuff said). “My Love” is a vanilla effort (and made me pine for the exquisite, swelling, similarly titled “The Way of Love,” from Gypsies); “I Walk Alone,” co-written by Pink, at least had a slightly different sound, akin to Philip Phillips’ “Home,” as if someone should be clogging to it. The one track worthy of your “music to listen to on the StairMaster” collection is the can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head “Dressed to Kill,” which is also, at under three minutes, the shortest song on the entire album. Every time I listen to it I picture a montage of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. (I am either imaginative, or just old.) This should be the second single released, which only guarantees it won’t be, just as Cher screwed up releasing the coyote-wailing that was “Strong Enough” as the second single off of "Believe" instead of the impossibly addictive “Taxi Taxi.”

It is ironic, then, that the best numbers on Closer to the Truth are not the high-octane dance tunes, but rather the ballads tucked away in the back. The 9/11 ode “Sirens” is Cher’s voice as its gentle, haunting, vulnerable best, a chill-inducing throwback to “Geronimo’s Cadillac” (1975) and “Heart of Stone” (1989), two other plaintive and affecting songs overlooked in the Cher canon. “Favorite Scars,” a seemingly autobiographical nod to the singer’s tabloid love life, carries a slight honky-tonk beat that’s as effective as it is surprising. “I Hope You Find It” (a cover of Miley Cyrus, no less) has the feel of a song that starts over the closing credits of a movie, and features Cher’s too-rarely-heard falsetto, piercing right to the heart. And “Lie to Me” carries echoes of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me (If You Don’t).” (The deluxe edition contains three bonus tracks: the Diane Warren–penned “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from Burlesque; the Timbaland-produced “I Don’t Have to Sleep to Dream”; and “Pride,” a dance-y, blatant play for anthem status at every Gay Pride celebration from here to Sydney.)

Closer to the Truth isn’t the worst solo album Cher has ever put out (an honor that goes to 1991’s appalling Love Hurts), but it’s hardly the wildly new, breakout sound she’s been huckstering on Twitter for the last two years, either. I can’t help but wonder what the album could have been with the finished Gaga duet (or any duet, really — how cool would Cher and Robin Thicke have been? Or Cher and Michael Bublé? Or Adam Levine?), or more songs that had better hooks, innovative melodies, or clever lyrics. As she has her entire career, Cher seems to promise her hardcore fans the things they crave (starring in a TV remake of Mame, singing the great standards, as she teased with her snippet of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” in the 1999 film Tea With Mussolini), then wanders off the reservation and does exactly what she wants. Which may explain why we gays worship her so devoutly and forgive her so often. Because even when she’s disappointing us she’s refusing to compromise, refusing to be anything than who she is. Refusing to apologize. And bringing us all, perhaps, a little closer to the truth.

My response: Although this is long and negative, it's a tour-de-force review. He knows his Cher songs. He references "Geronimo's Cadillac" for sh*ts sake. And as I quote these interviewers, it's interesting to see which ones defend the first half and which ones defend the second half. I, in fact, agree with his effusive comments about "Sirens" but don't think Cher was anywhere near performing a rap anywhere on this album. And could you really say Love Hurts was her worst album? Over Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer, the album made when the rails were coming off the Sonny & Cher train? Anyhow, albeit harsh, he's right about certain points regarding the lyrics and the quality of the dance half. Although I like the dance songs better than he does. He wanted something a lot of Cher fans do want and his summary was good at telling us why we don't always get it.

That's a Good Blog: NO ONE CAN JUDGE CHER!!! I would like to start this review with that simple statement FACT. Cher is a living legend, a diva, a goddess and an American treasure. Cher is the leading cause of gay freak-outs in the world...Cher has managed to once again put together a great album full of up-to-date music with that special Cher twist...This Cher album is in its highest gear on club bangers like first single...the album stand out "Take It Like a Man"...and the anthemic "My Love."  Cher enlists Pink's songwriting talents on stomper "I Walk Alone," which comes with not only beats but banjo! Cher and a banjo. Enough said. Of course, it wouldn't be a Cher album without some good old fashioned emoting, so our lady does not disappoint with ballads...Guys, c'mon. This is Cher. CHER! Get out there and listen to this album or I will remove your face. She's been in it to win it for all of her 67 years and you owe her.

My response: That was hilarious. I agree with everything here, as well! So frustrating for me to be so conflicted about this album. Except I don't quite think "My Love" lives up to "anthemic." The extended cut "Pride" is anthemic. Believe me, I know my anthemics. Listen to me or I will remove your face!

Slant: Cher's influence on pop music has never been as quantifiable as it has been in the last 15 years—a fact that's especially remarkable when you consider that the 67-year-old hasn't even put out an album in over a decade. The pervasive (mis)use of Auto-Tune to create a robotic, Vocorder-style vocal effect over the last several years can be directly attributed to the massive success of Cher's late-'90s hit "Believe," the sound of which was emulated by Madonna and Kanye West, and even formed the signature styles of artists like T-Pain and Ke$ha. So it's with some disappointment, but not much surprise, to discover that the singer's 26th studio album, Closer to the Truth, not only perpetuates this exhausted (and exhausting) formula, but fails to attempt to reinvent it in even the most minute ways.

Living Proof, the follow-up to Believe, played as a sort of pisstake of what had become known as "the Cher effect," with the singer's voice rendered nearly unrecognizable on tracks like "The Music's No Good Without You," and the rest of the album unabashedly stocked with club fare that, even if it failed to reprise the pop success of "Believe," further bolstered her late-career bona fides among many in the gay community. Closer to the Truth similarly eschews attempts to tweak the template, and the result is a collection of dance songs that sound incredibly dated—particularly the lead single, "Woman's World"... There's admittedly an allure to the '80s synths and swirling disco strings of "Lovers Forever," which was reportedly intended for the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire, and the banjo-infused stomper "I Walk Alone" feels somewhat modern, but with EDM all the rage now, the album is largely a wasted opportunity to once again update the icon's sound.

It's the ballad-heavy back half of Closer to the Truth, however, that prevents the album from even reaching guilty-pleasure status. The soundtrack to Burlesque aside, Cher hasn't indulged in this kind of MOR pap since the mid '90s (smartly, the closest thing to a slow jam on her last album was the brisk, drum n' bass-inflected "You Take It All"). If there's any redeeming element to be found among this series of not-very-powerful power ballads, which includes a cover of a Miley Cyrus song, it's the intriguing choice to end an album titled Closer to the Truth with the Pink-penned "Lie to Me," an acoustic, string-laden track in which Cher proclaims that "truth is overrated."

My response: Well, if you can't get into "When the Money's Gone," we have nothing left to talk about. I find it fascinating how each critic finds at least one song to love and it's always a different song! Which says something about the elusiveness of the album. This guy loves "Lovers Forever" and hates the ballads! WTF?

The Duke Chronicle: Cher devotees will not be disappointed; her famed deep contralto voice and signature dance-pop style are present in full force, but anyone looking for originality should certainly look much further. Cher may please, but she does not surprise.

The album’s first two tracks, 'Women’s World' and 'Take it Like a Man,' are catchy, heavily auto-tuned pieces perfectly suited for a dance floor or a girls' night out. The lyrical meanings are relatively arbitrary; to some extent, they are simply words set to a beat...

Still, although the album leads with its most single-worthy material, the following ten tracks are significantly slower and mellower. Whether you’ll actually feel anything from listening to these songs is debatable. The ballads are silly at best. Cher’s voice can’t seem to carry the sadness she attempts to convey. Instead it comes off with an almost screaming rocker vibe who takes periodic rests from her loud yelling to get significantly quieter, as if to say, “This is a really sad part now.”

But while Miley and Gaga may still have to prove themselves, Cher is well past that point. “Closer to the Truth” is her 26th studio album and, by now, listeners know what they’re getting when they purchase a Cher album. You’ll get what you paid for.

Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just when you think you’ve finished the CD and feel a little bit of despair at buying yet another Cher album, you’ll find three bonus tracks at the end of the album. Here is the new material we’ve been looking for! It isn't unexpected or imaginative, but it is the sassy and brassy Cher we’ve come to know and love. In 'I Don’t Have to Sleep to Dream,' she describes a perfect love with a background full of electronic beats and lacking her usually incredibly strong auto tune. When Cher sings “So I got my eyes closed / hands up, dancing by myself / oh I never felt nothing better,” you might just feel the same.

My response: I don't get this  review at all. So wishy-washy.

Newsday:  ...does everything right. As the first single "Woman's World" shows, the 67-year-old can still handle herself on the dance floor. The way she powers her way through the  P!nk-penned "Lie to Me" shows her vocals are as strong as ever. However, what she does best here is pick songs that suit her and the theme of indestructibility she embodies. When she promises, "I will always be the one to carry you home," in the gorgeous rock ballad "Sirens," based on the recovery after 9/11, you believe her. Cher doesn't just survive here, she thrives.

My response: If they loved the album so much and it "does everything right," why did they only give it a B+ ?

Montreal Gazette: ...[This album] brings coy double-entendres like "Take It Like A Man," a shimmering dancefloor swooner and a bunch of club pounders. Taylor Swift has a ‘Red,’ so Cher is having one, and when she covers a song from Miley Cyrus cinema bomb ("I Hope You Find It"), we have entered a strange land. There’s scary banjo-stomp-disco in "I Walk Alone," and with "Sirens," the weepers have floated in. Fear the Weepers. There are 13 different songwriters on the first four tracks. So yeah, it’s kind of like a miracle, and kind of sad and kind of heroic that it even exists.  **1/2

My response: Again, I agree with this last line. With 13 songwriters on four tracks, the lyrics should be better and that's sad...and yet there is something redeeming about the fact. And it is oddly miraculous-feeling. Sometimes I wonder if there's not something subliminal working here.

MIMO:  It must be the week for music icons in their ‘60s to release landmark new records. Not only did we see 66-year-old Elton John release the remarkably defining record The Diving Board this week, but 67-year-old Cher is out with Closer To the Truth, her first record in nearly 12 years.  I gotta be honest: I was impressed with Elton John, but I was flabbergasted by Cher.

Seriously. While all this news is swirling around about Cher’s recent unflattering comments regarding Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, and how yesterday’s provocateur is criticizing today’s would-be vixen, I’m sitting here going, “Forget Miley…have you heard Cher’s record???”

When Cher told Reuters concerning the album, “This is my best effort ever…I’m singing better than ever,” my knee-jerk reaction was, Yeah, right—no one sings better in their 60s than they did in their earlier years. But it turns out she is not delusional; Cher knows when she’s singing well. And she’s absolutely right: this is some of the best vocal work she’s done—at the very least, it stands up against her best from previous years. And at 67, that isn’t merely impressive—it’s unheard of.

Now, I’m not gonna say there hasn’t been some doctoring-up in the studio here and there. This is a woman who has never been afraid of improving her looks artificially, so it follows that she wouldn’t be above a little post-production audio improvements, as well. (Let’s not forget that it was Cher’s single “Believe” that essentially brought auto-tune into vogue as an effect in the electro-pop vein.) But there’s a difference between using a studio magic to mask poor talent and using it to enhance actual talent—and it’s easy to detect that in Cher’s case, she’s doing the latter. In the numerous moments on the album where her vocals are unaffected, you can tell her voice is in top form. Only in a few spots toward the end of the track list can we hear a bit of a rasp, and in those spots it simply adds character to the song.

...The opening track and lead single “Woman’s World” and follow-up track “Take It Like a Man” are both certainly hit material, with “Red” and “I Walk Alone” also being close contenders. When the beats stop, Cher’s vocal range really becomes evident on ballads like “Sirens” and “I Hope You Find It” (which, ironically, was first sung by Miley Cyrus). Really, though, you could insert almost any song title into these examples; you’ll be hard pressed to find a cut on this record that doesn’t have some measure of hit quality.

The thing I find most remarkable about this album is how effortlessly Cher seems to carry it off. This doesn’t sound like an aging woman trying to prove her continued viability in the music market; this simply sounds like timeless Cher, putting out an album that hits the same mark of excellence as anything she’s done before. If you ask me, the real news story here isn’t Cher’s diss of Miley Cyrus; it’s the fact that she’s made a record in her 60s that outclasses anything Miley has ever done, or probably ever will do. If Closer To the Truth doesn’t net Cher another Grammy, it will be nothing short of robbery. 4.5 / 5 stars

My response: This is probably the most positive review. I don't quite get there with this album or at least for the same reasons the reviewer does.

Rolling Stone (Drake's Progress): In many ways like Van Morrison—she is a mammal, has two legs and two arms and has been making music since the ‘60s—Cher is simply too great to ever cast aspersions on, which I wouldn’t do even if I had any! This new record—her first studio set in over 10 years—is fine, good, excellent pop music that proves 1) She has never lost her innate ability to sing, 2) Nearly anyone at any age can make an upbeat and accessible pop record and 3) When you record songs with titles like “Woman’s World,” “Dressed To Kill” and “Take It Like A Man,” you’re sort of playing to your audience, no? I like it fine, am proud of her for being an upstanding diva-type that remains surprisingly listenable, and—I’m embarrassed to say--never knew that she was a blonde! Like many of her biggest fans, I was always into her music and never knew what she actually looked like!

My response: This reviewer escapes into his glib witticisms without saying anything. After reading these kinds of prefaces, starting out a review claiming Cher is un-reviewable at this point, I'm not sure what to think. It's like throwing up your hands on even trying to review Cher product. Is it a compliment or a slam? She is beyond these little reviews (and always has been), but they feel like back-handed compliments still.

Mr. Cher Scholar: I told Mr. Cher Scholar that the album reviews were all over the place and he had this to say after he got to work in Santa Fe:

Listened to the Cher album on the way up and I really like it. It's no Sgt. Pepper's, Dark Side of the Moon, or Avalon, but after 50 years in the music business, what else can Cher do except a really well-sung, enjoyable album. I'd much rather hear Cher doing good original songs that hear her singing "standards" with Tony Bennett. If I hear one more aging rock star say, "I've always wanted to do this; these are the songs I grew up with..." before singing "You Made Me Love You," I'm going to cut my ears off.
The songs don't reveal any hidden side of Cher or plumb the emotional well, but what do people want from Cher? Honesty? You want honesty, read her tweets, the place where she's more open and honest than any artist in the world. After watching the Sonny and Cher Show over the past few weeks, I've also seen Sonny and Cher sing every possible genre of song imaginable. What could possibly be interesting to her at this point in her career? And yet, here is a well-made album of originals.
Overall, my review is two-thumbs up and one finger way up to the hacks who have tried to emulate her and the pseudo-reviewers who have trashed her.

Cher Scholar: Okay, here's my take.

First off, I love the cover art. I wish we had photos of Cher outside again, yes, and I prefer her as a raven-haired goddess...but all that said, I appreciate the consistency of the artwork (unlike the plethora of outfits paraded past us for Living Proof packaging). It feels soft and coherent and I dig it. The Target Deluxe version is a cardboard foldout and has extra photos. Her liner note thank yous are lovely...especially the shout-out to Joe DeCarlo. She's feelin her history and it gives her cred. I also like that she appreciates her personal assistant and calls her The Great Wall of Jen. Leonard Engleman is still doing her face to perfection. But Serena is the new hair wrangler.I do want to mention how small the booklet print is. I started following Cher before I could read; now I'm too old to read her liner notes. We've come a tragic full circle.

As for the music, I didn't love these dance songs much as I loved the tracks from Believe or Living Proof. I wasn't as into them lyrically or texturally. However, they all make me extremely happy and I instinctually want to dance to them (the dogs will tell you!). Even "Woman's World" has grown on me over time.

Take It Like a Man: I love the first verse and the ups and downs we go on. I can live without the auto-tune at this point. And at times here, it feels clumsy. But I bounce to this thing, I really do. And I love the strong assertiveness as a tonal thread that runs through this album.What I absolutely love about this song is the final, rocking, kick-ass fade out. Almost perfection. The vagueness of the lyric doesn't even bother me, I'm completely caught up in the "How does it feel/when we do it better!" Cher sounds great.

My Love: You had me at hello in falsetto. Actually, the aggressive songs are all counterbalanced by lyrics about Cher's enticements of comfort and shelter. I like the ethereal vocal parts, more than the belting, but at least the belting here is tempered by softness. The dance arrangement doesn't really impress me until the bridge. And this album is nothing if not a strong album of bridges. They're mostly all anthemic and full of feeling. I'm just thinking this now but remember all the liner notes where Sonny claims Cher does nothing if not make you "feel." Well, I never really felt what he was driving at...until this album. This album does evoke a mood of feeling.

Dressed to Kill: The auto-tune works here for me, especially the descending end of the chorus. Because we're being campy. I love the line "dancing in the dark with my hands around your heart." This is another aggressive dance track. There's also a theme of blood in this album with "blood will spill" pulsing through the chorus. Lovely piano interlude. One of the strongest dance tracks. It feels very 1980s with the synthesizers...but that all works. Please make this video a parade of Cher outfits through time.

Red: The belting of this one tires me out but I love the sassy way she sings the verses. This is Cher at her best around the edges. And no, this is not a rap. Ask Snoop Dog, Coolio or even Vanilla Ice, for Chrissakes. The pileup of color metaphors are weak and this would have been a forward-thinking smash somewhere in the 1980s but I'll keep it for the excellent verses.

Lovers Forever: I always appreciate Cher-penned material and although this one feels like 1980s synth-filler, I much prefer this filler to Diane Warren filler every day and twice on Sunday. Mostly, I like the lyrics to this (at least we have a hint of narrative cohesion) and feel this song trips when they tried to turn it into a dance song. It's running too fast for itself. Maybe this would work as a torch song. "How many mortals who have drained their souls for less" is really one of the best lines of the album. This being a vampire song intended for Interview with a Vampire, we continue the blood theme.

I Walk Alone: This songs works for me. I love the chorus, which is nothing like Cher has ever done (and she's done freakin everything!) And no, this isn't a rap either. The only weak point of this song for me is the "But for now I gotta walk alone" lines which don't completely follow for me logically after the "Turn, Turn, Turn" awesomeness that precedes it. It's like it wants to be two different songs. But hey, that's a trifle in the face of the rest working. With "Gonna love you until I bleed," we are given more blood.

Sirens: Of course I am in love with this. Of course I think it's near perfect, especially Cher's flowing vocal, her quiet enunciation and care and the sublime way she sings "perfect blue" and "too much to lose." I almost wish the ballads had been interspersed with the dance tracks. Then critics wouldn't be able to cut the album in half like a sandwich or say it's "frontloaded." They'd get lost in the soup. The song evokes a very strong mood, much more intimate than we've come to expect. Love it. For me, this is the surprising track on the album. I would have love to hear the rhythm section pumped up here with bass and drums. The guitar is chilling. Love the wailing end...she's so on it. One of my top three songs of the set. "I will always be the one to carry you home" give us more gestures of comfort and shelter.

Favorite Scars: This is another one of my top three. Truly a modern arrangement here. A great vocal, a great message but simple. This felt truly original. And it's my third song I've discovered this year about riptides (with "Riptide" by Vance Joy and "Rip Tide" by Sick Puppies). Perfecto.

I Hope You Find It: Me and my friend's boyfriend are the only ones I know of who want to read these lyrics as parental. Except for the line "am I supposed to hang around and wait forever." Anyhow, this is a strong ballad and I love the lyric video. It seems to move a step toward being country without plunging in. Very country-lite. Maybe if these tiny country songs on this album do well, she'll move in that direction. A very conservative vocal. I blame the vocal coach for teaching Cher how to sing with a net. This song is a perfect amount of belting. I don't love the big belting note but most people love that about Cher so who am I to be harping on Cher belting?

Lie to Me: Took me a few listens to even notice Cher sings the word f*ck in the first line. This song is too studied and conservative for me. But it's interesting in its depressing-ness. Interesting soft choice for the end of the basic album versions.

Bonus tracks:

I Don't Have to Sleep to Dream: I have friends who love, love, love this but it feels like silly, 1980s-retread to me. The lyric is a roller coaster..but for toddlers. By the way, the lyric sheet trying to type out the OhoohOhs is completely unnecessary. There's no need to include anything but the words. Songs like this made me feel like this album was not really intended for the likes of me, long-time listener, Cher fan born in 1969. Like maybe the target audience for this album are Miley Cyrus fans and young turks in high school right now. But honestly, I prefer the candy of "Skin Deep" to this.

Pride: I resisted the pop-high-school-candy-ness of this song as long as I could but it consumed me like an alien monster and now I'm bursting with it. This song feels almost cynically calculated to serve the gay male audience (just like "Take it Like a Man" and "Dressed to Kill") but as I am for the most part a gay man in a woman's body, I'm a sucker for this sort of anthemic, Snoopy-dance.This is now one of my top three.

Will You Wait For Me: Why is this a bonus track? Again, more ballads like this, more slow-tempos interspersed with the throbbing dance tracks would have sorted out the balance of the album better. This song serves more country-lite intimacy that is promising. She couldn't lose with a whole album of tracks like this.

Compared to the beautiful lyrics of "Taxi, Taxi," "Love is In the Groove," "When the Money's Gone" and "You Take it All," I was disappointed here on a lyric level. On the other hand, there is quite a bit here to love and I can see myself gravitating to this album often and affectionately.

I agree with these words from the New York Daily News: "If that doesn’t add up to Cher’s prime, it pays to remember that bourgeois notions of “good” or “bad” don’t apply to her. At root, the new disc pleases by this sole measure: It’s deeply, madly Cher."

Again, we're given the caveat that Cher is beyond judgement. But notions of good and bad are not in fact bourgeois--but elitist. Although Cher is beyond iconic now, she is essentially a "sanger"(as Cee Lo Green would say), a singer of the people, a glamorous, defiant soldier. These kinds of judgements are meaningless at some point. We judge only for ourselves. The real rubric is the Billboard chart.

My billboard-watching friend sent me this email yesterday:

It looks like we underestimated the old girl. After the first four days of sales (representing 85% of music retailers), Soundscan reports that Cher's is the number 3 album in the U.S. (trailing only Drake and Kings of Leon: both 20-something artists....(all five guys were but pimply teens without record deals when Cher last charted, with Living Proof). She is expected to hold her own for the final three days of the tracking week. There is a chance she may slide down to #4, if Elton John gains a little steam (he's currently #4). Not too shabby for a couple of senior citizens, neither of whom have had a Top 40 hit in 14+ years.  [Which also means, essentially, that no one under the age of eighteen has ever experienced Cher (or Elton) on the radio with anything but songs released before said listeners were born--yikes!  That's how long ago "Believe" was--hard to believe!]
If she stays put at #3 she sets new personal bests for her 48 year career on the Billboard charts:
--highest debut of her entire career
--highest charting position of her solo career (Look at Us climbed as high as #2)
She's neck in neck with Babs, who bests her by one year in terms of the longevity record for Top Ten Albums:
The Barbra Streisand Album (1963) - What Matters Most (2012) = 49 years
Look At Us (1965) - Closer to the Truth (2013) = 48 years
For this particular chart record, Paul McCartney is tied with Babs for the same exact time span, but will likely pull ahead when his new album New comes out in three weeks.

I take credit for part of this with the five copies I purchased.

Meanwhile, Cher scholar Dishy found more international stuff for us to buy up:


The CD single for "I Hope You Find It"





LowdownA new interview CD:






ChercompnewA new compilation CD



Thanks Mary! Excellent compilation of reviews and I appreciate your comments on them. I also loved your reference to "ask the dogs". I for one am so excited to hear new Cher music after all these years of being a Cher fan. The dance tracks make me happy and I too am certainly moving. Even our cat gets in on it. He actually loves Cher and he perks up when he hears her voice. On the quieter side of things I love love love "Sirens". Favorite track on the album for me. Thanks once again for all your hard work on this blog.


two words for reading microscopic liner notes: magnifying glass

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