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Best Cher album since Heart of Stone
on September 24, 2013
Cher is finally back after 12 long years. Twelve years is a long time for fans to wait for a new album, and a long time with which to harbor anticipation. Closer to the Truth is a strong effort from the biggest diva of our time, though not without its shortcomings. Still, fans should be more than satisfied with this record.
The road to releasing this album has been sketchy though. It seems Cher really wanted to go back to her rock roots for a while. The smashing success of 1998's Believe album caused a huge derailment for those plans, however. Cher became queen of the dance floor after that album, for better or worse! Following that up (not counting the independently-released not.com.mercial album), 2001's Living Proof album took Believe's title track and morphed it into an entire album. The resulted in a fun dance record, but not really the strongest album in Cher's catalog. After a long hiatus, we got the Diane Warren-penned power ballad, "You Haven't Seen The Last of Me" from the Burlesque soundtrack. Cher was set to release a full album of such material, hearkening back to Heart of Stone's sound. But then the attack of the dance club came back, as dance remixes of "Last of Me" took the scene by storm, so the album was changed to dance pop again.
But this isn't bad at all. Unlike Living Proof, the grand majority of the club bangers here sound like they were meant to be slower rock songs that were handed over to Mark Taylor to work his magic. The lyrics and melodies are much more complex, even if the backing music sounds fairly typical. And of course, none can deny the sheer presence that Cher commands on her music. That alone sets this collection apart from her modern-day competition! Highlights such as "Take It Like a Man", "Red", "Dressed to Kill" and "My Love" are as brilliantly energetic as they are beautiful. But starting with track seven, the album takes a more contemporary turn. "I Walk Alone" is a truly fantastic foot-stomper. Not dance, but not slow either, it's a great sound for Cher. After this one though, the album slows down to a handful of excellent ballads. Clearly, this is where Cher's strength lies, as she sounds 100% committed to these songs. While some may be disappointed that the album isn't 12 straight tracks of dance music, I love that we get to hear this slower side of Cher again. It's a great snippet of what she can do outside of the club. "Sirens" and "I Hope You Find It", in particular, are truly gorgeous.
My only criticisms are about two tracks in particular. The first single, "Woman's World", sounds wildly out of place even among other tracks. Paul Oakenfold, while a brilliant DJ, isn't the strongest producer and it shows. "Woman's World" sounds too remixed, and too clubby. It would sound more at home as part of a DJ set or compilation than a track on a studio album. And then sadly, there is "Lovers Forever". Don't get me wrong, I love this song as it appears on this album, but having heard the original version I can say I ache to hear Cher sing this as it was originally meant. "Lovers Forever" was given to Cher to record for the soundtrack of Interview With The Vampire in 1994. Instead, it was recorded by Shirley Eikhard. The song is an absolutely amazing gothic ballad and Cher's voice would've made it soar. And while we still get a hint of what it could've been, the dance music does take away from it. If this were given to, say, Jim Steinman to produce, it would've been downright epic.
In the end, it's just great to have Cher back. This is easily her strongest album since Heart of Stone. Listen to it!