Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Electronic, Adult Contemporary, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Club/Dance
When the Farewell Tour concluded after a record 326 dates, having been expanded multiple times during its run, there was reason enough to think that “Farewell” might be the wrong word to use. Sure, Cher may have taken time off from releasing new music and actively touring worldwide – including her successful run at the Colosseum – but while she may have not released any new music since Living Proof until now, she always gave off the aura of a performer who would never be content resting on her laurels, wasting away the days in a placid retirement. With the release of Closer to the Truth, and further down the road in March of 2014 when the Dressed to Kill tour begins, then the return that her most die-hard fans have been waiting for will arrive.
"Getting older sucks the big one," Cher said recently, yet ageing seems to have instilled a fierce energy. On her last album, in 2001, she was a bellowing dance-commander, and now she's gone one better, cranking up both the beats and her propensity for blasting. And she can blast like nobody else: Pink and Jake Shears are credited as backing vocalists on I Walk Alone and Take it Like a Man respectively, but they're inaudible against Cher's Auto-Tuned foghorn.
After half a century in the music industry, it's amazing that Cher is still making records in 2013. That Closer to the Truth is any good at all is even more shocking. With the help of her longtime producer Mark Taylor, plus Billy Mann and Paul Oakenfold, the album has a fully modern sound, a large portion of the songs (written by the usual cast of many who include P!nk and Cher herself) are hooky and fun, and her voice, aided by technology or not, still carries a lot of weight and power.
Cher's influence on pop music has never been as quantifiable as it has been in the last 15 years—a fact that's especially remarkable when you consider that the 67-year-old hasn't even put out an album in over a decade. The pervasive (mis)use of Auto-Tune to create a robotic, Vocorder-style vocal effect over the last several years can be directly attributed to the massive success of Cher's late-'90s hit “Believe,” the sound of which was emulated by Madonna and Kanye West, and even formed the signature styles of artists like T-Pain and Ke$ha. So it's with some disappointment, but not much surprise, to discover that the singer's 26th studio album, Closer to the Truth, not only perpetuates this exhausted (and exhausting) formula, but fails to attempt to reinvent it in even the most minute ways.
The artwork for Closer To The Truth, Cher’s first studio album in almost 12 years, is more apt than its creators probably realise. It depicts our diva lounging on a white pillow wearing only flesh-coloured lingerie, one strap very deliberately hanging from her shoulder. Like the album title it suggests a rawer offering from one of pop’s most flamboyant performers, perhaps something akin to her self-released and largely self-penned 2000 album Not.Com.mercial, which retreated from high-octane dance and indulged a long-held love for bluesy folk.
Rest easy knowing Cher’s “Goddess of Pop” sash remains in little danger of undue snatching; at 67, she sounds more convincing than J-Lo or Madonna reporting from “the club” on the Oakenfold-fueled single “Woman’s World” that opens her new album. While “Closer to the Truth” is smartly frontloaded with a heap of glossy South Beach bangers — including the fiery, heavenly heave of “Take It Like a Man,” the noir throb of “Dressed to Kill,” and “Red,” which hits you like a rum punch to the face — the second wind of her 26th album, presumably designed for the drive home from the club, seems to insist she’s more than a remix ingredient or Auto-tune fodder. Pink’s stomping kiss-off “I Walk Alone” makes for a defiant counterpart to her gorgeous closing crusher, “Lie to Me.