Dancing with the angels
14 April 2021-
Demi Lovato may have once danced with the devil, but now she's very much floating with angels, provided we are the angels...
Demi Lovato‘s artistic journey is a rather unique one. Starting at a very young age with a Disney Channel-type career, she had spotlights set straight in her face extremely early. And she did well at that, becoming one of the rising stars American pop culture seems to have the secret of, much like Britney Spears before her, Miley Cyrus more or less at the same time as her or, these days, Olivia Rodrigo. Much like these other highly talented ladies, she managed to provide her generation with a fresh and engaging face while managing to balance an incredibly hectic professional life at a time most people still have no idea what they want to do with their life…
But there’s a catch: like many other young stars (see: Britney), she had quite a hard time later on, when the sheer weight of success and fame effectively became overwhelming. Unlike other young stars, however (to the possible exception of the equally wonderful Rodrigo), she always possessed a voice. And by voice, we mean a metaphorical presence that distinguished her very early on in a landscape that tends to inevitably produce somewhat replaceable talents. We also mean it literally: Demi Lovato boasts vocal skills the likes of which we only hear from the Whitney Houstons and Adeles of this world… That comparison is not hyperbolic: Lovato’s vocals were and are truly breathtaking.
In 2018, the artist infamously suffered a major overdose that had her in a hospital bed fighting for her life. A sad tale, considering she had been sober for years prior to that, had recently released a new album and was very much in demand. Great artists always find a way to leverage heartache to produce their best work: that is exactly what Lovato did, in droves. Slowly but surely, she came back into the limelight, perhaps more so than ever before: she signed with star manager Scooter Braun (whose other clients include Ariana Grande and some guy called Justin Bieber), started acting again and, eventually, performing new music… until Dancing With the Devil… the Art of Starting Over, her 7th (!) studio album showed up a couple of weeks ago.
The LP’s first single had actually come out way back when in January 2020 (i.e. pre-Covid) with the powerful “Anyone”, a beautiful piece of vocalizing set to a lone piano melody. The lead single “Dancing with the devil” came a year later, with an accompanying music video that very much sets the scene. In a true example of artistic and personal courage, the singer pretty much lays it all bare here: how close she came from passing away, the pain she effectively went through, the dark side to her otherwise glossy life… And she does that with the gusto of a true world class performer: these may be beautifully crafted pop tunes, her sincerity still shines through.
You also get a couple of musical gems here and there to (somewhat) lighten the mood: the funky “The art of starting over”, stylishly produced by Oak, the electro-infused “Met Him Last Night”, featuring the aforementioned Ariana Grande, the wonderfully minimalistic “My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriend” featuring rising superstar Saweetie, the artfully chosen Tears for Fears cover “Mad World“… Lovato succeeds in doing the (near) impossible: creating a straight up Pop album with incredibly heavy subject matter and occasional moments of true grace… Keep them coming, Demi!