From 2008 to about 2011 Lady Gaga was one of the most talked about and listened to artist in pop music. No matter where you went or what radio station you listened to, there was always something around related to Gaga. Hits like “Just Dance,” “Paparazzi,” “Poker Face,” “Telephone” and “Born This Way” all made Gaga a mega-star. Even her fashion statements, such as her famous meat dress from the VMAs, made her larger than life. Not since Madonna had the world seen someone so willing to take risks, someone who went far and beyond to give unique performance experiences, someone who supplied the world with such catchy, fun and incredible dance tunes.
Then, in 2013, Gaga released Artpop, an album that produced two successful singles, but disappointed fans, as she had seemingly lost the punch she exhibited in albums like The Fame, The Fame Monster and Born This Way. Gaga did manage in 2014 to give her fans, known as “Little Monsters,” something different with the jazz collaboration album she did with the legendary Tony Bennett.
With her surprising pursuit of acting in the movie Machete Kills, TV series American Horror Story: Hotel and Roanoke, it is clear Gaga has made the choice to move her career into a new direction, showing different sides of herself than she has before.
Joanne, her fifth album, without a shadow of a doubt reflects this choice. It has got a country vibe to it, with a little mix of rock, disco and folk -- something nobody expected from the New York-born singer. Gaga’s lyrics and overall vocal work feel more grounded and human this time around than in her previous efforts. Themes of family, pain, heartbreak and more are all tackled on this album. She reaches deep into her soul and brings out deep stories. Joanne is, for the most part, Gaga’s most experimental album to date. She really presents authenticity on each track.
In regards to her singles, "Perfect Illusion” is an appropriate lead single that incorporates almost a New Age disco sound with a little bit of synthesizers. “Perfect Illusion’s” production gives you the feeling of a mystifying energy that you can feel in your ears when listening. “Million Reasons” is a also standout track: a touching and heartfelt ballad that uses just a piano and an acoustic guitar. Of all the songs on this album this one has the ability to make one shed a tear, as its beauty cannot be contained. The title track “Joanne” is another standout. It’s a mid-tempo country tune reminiscent of an old Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton song. "John Wayne” is the only disappointment on the album, as it sounds sonically too similar to the old Gaga song “Alejandro.” The production and flow of the song sound as if she sampled her own beat.
It is very interesting that the album features only one guest vocalist, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. Gaga revives this practice from her 2009 record The Fame Monster, on which Beyoncé was her only guest vocalist.
Gaga has progressed into a whole new lane musically, and it’s resulted in something new for the fans to enjoy. The artist has reinvented herself once again with this fifth studio album.