On October 21, 2016, Mother Monster released her much anticipated follow–up album (excluding Cheek to Cheek) to 2013’s ambitious Artpop. Donning a pink cowboy hat and her signature blonde locks, Joanne’s album art has been one of the most stripped-down looks we’ve seen from Miss Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Likewise, Joanne’s sound is simplistic and serves as prime support for the raw vocal talent of Gaga.
Sonically, Joanne remains pop, but incorporates a considerable amount of country and rock influence. This stretches far beyond simple sound, but also impacts the album’s lyrical and cultural feel. Tracks like John Wayne, A-YO and Sinner’s Prayer are a perfect blend of country-pop. On the other side, Dancin’ in Circles (my favourite song) takes on a more reggae-ska approach. If you want the charged EDM and the bizarre, outlandish costumes, you will be in for a huge surprise. Ironically, this Gaga is, strangely, the most absurd due to the reserved, yet refreshing nature of Joanne.
This album gets personal and most notably, relatable. Joanne, titled after Gaga’s late aunt and her own middle name, explores issues such as female love (Hey Girl featuring Florence Welch), broken-heartedness (Million Reasons) and an overall theme of family and friendship. While the album isn’t as energetically charged as her previous work, it remains a significant, poignant piece of work that bravely mixes genres in ways we’d never expect.
Joanne serves as a turning point for Lady Gaga. Will we ever hear the previously electric-pop that struck our hearts with Just Dance? Who knows. In the meantime, get used to this new Gaga. She’s happy and plans to stick around.