In anticipation of Cher's 2013 studio album, Closer to the Truth, officially dropping Tuesday, I wanted to revisit her last studio album, 2001's Living Proof. The album was her highly anticipated follow-up to the blockbuster, Believe, and it expands the dance aesthetic Cher took on in the late 90s by integrating more pop hooks and vocal effects. In many ways, it is a more mainstream album, and though it creates a less concise and quirky sonic world than Believe, Living Proof has its own charms.
The album's greatest asset is its sunny disposition. Cher is at her best with the feel-good self-esteem dance anthems, like "Alive Again," "(This is) A Song for the Lonely," "A Different Kind of Love Song," "Real Love," and "When the Money's Gone." The diva knows how to work a strong and supportive lyric, and her performances are comforting to listen to. Not to mention, the dance settings keep things from getting melancholy by providing a strong forward motion to each track. Amidst the 2013 EDM explosion, the production for these tracks sounds tasteful--almost classic--and you hear how Living Proof anticipated trends now common-place on pop radio: vocal effects and layering used to create texture, building up pop songs with beats and electronics resulting in lush sonic worlds, and centering songs around bold choruses.
Beyond these anthems, the album also explores the pleasures and pitfalls of love. Most of these songs, namely "Rain, Rain," "Love so High," the especially campy "Body to Body, Heart to Heart," and the lovely "Take it All," have pleasant productions, even if they slow the record down. However, they work as slow-jam mood pieces, buffering the more gripping material so you can catch your breath.
Cher has created more interesting albums, like Believe and 1987's Cher, but Living Proof is a success in that it shows the artist not running from her resurgence but embracing it whole-heartedly. If anything, listening to the album makes me all the more excited for Closer to the Truth and Cher's continued musical perseverance. Ever the survivor, she sings and dances on.
(Note: This review is based on the Intentional version of Living Proof; the US edition has a slightly different track listing. Also, you can stream Cher's newest album, Closer to the Truth, for free on Amazon until its official release on Tuesday.)