Album Review: Cher's Closer to the Truth

Cher does not often make remarkable pop records. Just like any artist whose career spans decades and twenty six albums, many of her projects are interesting creative endeavors with bright and sometimes brilliant moments, but few come close to perfect. However, Closer to the Truth is in the running for her flawless, best pop album, as well as the crowning achievement of her engagement with club music over the past twenty years. It is at once representative of her campy iconography and aesthetic, while also being adventurous. As such, the album never feels monotone (as some of her records have) but works as a fully-realized and rich musical world.

As many listeners would expect, dance music serves as the gateway into Closer to the Truth. Cher revolutionized dance and pop music by integrating house music and euro-dance, adding auto-tune and hooks to make it attractive for radio. Her aesthetic as a club artist has always favored chorus-driven material dressed in the high energy of rave and disco music. Cher stays true to her tastes; as a result, the dance tracks, including lead single, "Woman's World," the cheeky "Take it Like a Man," and new drag anthem "Dressed to Kill," sound like clear pitches to the gay bar culture that has been her primary fan base. This does not mean they are not fun but quite the opposite. The dance songs on the album transcend fads and tap into that endlessly enjoyable sweet spot only certain meticulously produced club music can.

Yet, the album is not just the soundtrack to a great party. Harkening back to her days as a pop-metal chick, the singer revisits her gift for delivering power-ballads, most notable of which are the empowerment anthem "Favorite Scars," new single "I Hope You Find It," and the instant classic "Sirens," which can double both as a love song and a 9/11 tribute.  These are all exceptionally strong offerings, and perhaps "Sirens" best represents the bunch in that it sounds like Cher at her best--the drama of the vocal, the grand use of guitars--and both the performance and expansive production allow the track to stand beside her best work, namely "If I Could Turn Back Time."

When you pare these ballads with the folk and country inflected "I Walk Alone" and "Lie to Me," during which Cher's vocals sit front and center, Closer to the Truth becomes not just a pop record but an art piece about joy, empowerment, hope, aging, and loss. Yet, these themes do not impede upon the album's fun factor. Instead, they enrich the material with gravitas--something Cher has always had a knack for delivering. Closer to the Truth is Cher's masterpiece, and, more importantly, it is her best album to dance and sing aloud to from beginning to end.

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