Last year, two albums ruled the year – Marina & the Diamonds’ Electra Heart and, of course, MDNA. There were others – Saint Etienne’s Words & Music, Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die and even, from out of left field, Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee. 2012 was a good year for albums. I didn’t feel like this year lived up to last year musically on any level. A lot of this has to do with the fact that many of my favorite artists were silent. No new Madonna, no new Kylie, no new Dolly, another live album from Streisand (yawn) – you get the picture. On the flip side, it helped me to listen to artists that are not my tried and true, but to say they were missed is definitely an understatement.
Which brings me to the first of three albums this year that I feel are worth mentioning – and that’s Cher’s Closer To The Truth. This album gets the award for “Grow-er, Not A Show-er” as at first, I was a little underwhelmed by Cher’s first full length album in 12 years. Part of it was because expectations were running high, even though we knew that, since it was Cher, it was likely to be trendy and kitschy. And it is – no doubt about it. But the more I listen to Closer To The Truth, the more I really like it. Moreso than Believe, and even more than Living Proof – if this were to be Cher’s final album, it would be a fitting swan song to her long career in the business. Not that I want it to be her last album!
I was nervous in the run-up to Closer To The Truth‘s release – news that the label had rejected it and sent it back to Cher for a redo did not build my confidence. I was lukewarm to “Woman’s World” which debuted last November and almost made last year’s best-of CD (mostly by default.) Her statement on Twitter that it was “dance, dance, dance” made me feel like she was headed back to the Believe well again. And she did, sort of. The first half of the album is the dance album that Cher tweeted about. But the second half of the album is a Cher like we haven’t heard since the late 80s/early 90s. It was chock full of ballads and midtempo songs that balanced the album out and really showcased Cher’s voice, which, while not the best voice in the world is certainly more than passable and beyond recognizable.
The cover is airbrushed beyond the beyond, but Cher managed to crank out a reasonably good set of tunes that I didn’t burn out on after 10 listens. I’m still playing the Jake Shears penned “Take It Like A Man” although, as my friend Jeff points out, when she’s singing “Boy if you want my heart/You better take it like a man” how old is this boy exactly? 70? Questions to ponder. Songs I didn’t care for much at first – “I Walk Alone” and even the lead single “Woman’s World” have become favorites. It doesn’t hurt one little bit that Anna really enjoys the album as well – so much so that she was doing an impression of Cher singing Taylor Swift’s “Red”, all because Cher does a song called “Red.” I’m continuing to raise her right.
Like many albums these days, it was pressed on vinyl – and not just any ordinary vinyl. It is a gorgeous white vinyl with the vintage Warner Bros. label.
We’re headed to Cher’s concert on my birthday in 2014 – all three of us, plus 5 other friends. She’ll be 68 when she plays in Des Moines. She’s nothing short of amazing. Mostly, I admire Cher’s moxie and her “I-don’t-give-a” which comes with being 67 and in the public eye for a staggering 50 of those years. She is one of the few celebrities who I really feel delivers their true self. The Cher we hope for is the Cher that really exists. Her Twitter account is not an act. Part crazy aunt in the attic, part late 60-something baffled by technology, all celebrity diva fabulousness, I hope Cher continues to deliver for another hundred years if nowhere else, at least on Twitter. What is disturbing coming from Chuck Grassley is endearing coming from Cher.
There are two more parts to the album list – one was an album that came out of nowhere to capture my heart late this year and also, my album of the year. Stay tuned