Closer To The Truth

Cher

Warner Bros. Records, 2013

http://www.cher.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/02/2013

Ever since announcing her retirement from live performance following her massively successful Farwell Tour, which comprised 300 plus shows between 2002-2005, Cher has been one very busy woman. Over the last eight years, Cher spent three of them contracted to a very lucrative Vegas residency and also found time to shoot a new film, 2010’s Burlesque, as well as recording new material for the film’s soundtrack. In between all of that activity, there had been steady reports that the great lady was hard at work on her next album, which was originally penciled in for a 2011 release. Although there were varying accounts of what kind of music Cher was recording, it turned out that they were all correct for once.

There had been sessions in Nashville where it was reported the material was Southern rock/folk, and there were also sessions in which Cher only covered her favorite songs from the ‘60s with the idea to release an album strictly in that vein. At some stage over the last few years, though, Cher hooked up with her long-time producer Mark Taylor, the man responsible for Believe, and began working on rough dance tracks with him. Eventually, Cher bit the bullet, and along with Taylor reassembled the team and got stuck into writing a new batch of songs once and for all. 

As a longtime and pretty hardcore Cher fan, I’m delighted to say that the resulting album is not only superior to its two sister predecessors (‘98’s Believemy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 and Living Proof from 2001), but it is one of her best albums ever. One of the main reasons for this is no doubt due to the fact that Cher took a much more hands-on approach with this album than any other she had ever made before, including co-writing three of the eleven tracks here. Closer To The Truth, Cher’s twenty-sixth studio release, plays like an LP in the sense that the songs are sequenced in two distinct halves. 

The first seven songs are blistering, club-ready dance tracks, which are then followed by four AOR/alt-rock tracks mainly driven by either electric or acoustic guitars. Everything about the sound of this album is well above par, from the production to the writing – even Cher’s iconic voice is more powerful than ever. The CD kicks off with one of Cher’s best ever singles, the anthemic dance track “Woman’s World.”  The battle weary but uplifting lyrics and the thumping electro track are brought to extraordinary life by a powerhouse performance from Cher; the great thing is, there’s plenty more where that came from. 

As I mentioned earlier, Cher co-wrote three tracks here, and two of them are absolute knockouts.  “Take It Like A Man” is like “Believe” on steroids, and “Dressed To Kill” is a killer dance track that gets better after each listen. The third song of hers, “Lovers Forever,” is a more retro, Euro-styled dance track that while solid, would be more at home on Living Proof. “I Walk Alone” was one of two songs written especially for Cher by Pink; it fits right in as the track is a little more minimalistic.

The very next song is one of my favorites here and easily one of the best that Cher has ever recorded.  “Sirens” is a beautiful alt-rock ballad (a little U2-esque perhaps) and stripped of any vocal effects and layered vocal tracks, it is a stark reminder of what a great singer Cher really is. Her deep and emotive singing is also a winner on “Favorite Scars,” which is easily the most straightforward pop song to be found here. The other killer ballad on the record is “I Hope You Find It,” which apparently was an album track on a Miley Cyrus album that Taylor played for Cher, who took to it immediately; the result is another stunning ballad which gives the album heart. 

The closer “Lie To Me” is the other Pink song and it’s a good choice to close the record with; however, it is one of only two songs here (along with “Red”) that don’t really match the potency of all the other tracks included here. 

Closer To The Truth is so much better than even I was expecting it to be and it serves as further proof that sixty-seven year-old Cher ain’t going nowhere anytime soon. As she gears up for the Dressed To Kill Tour, let’s hope that any further talk of retirement can be taken with the grain of salt it was last time.

Rating: A-

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