Release Date: Apr 2, 2021
Record label: Island
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Buy Dancing with the Devil... The Art of Starting Over from Amazon
By now, most people approaching this album will be familiar with the sheer, bloodied trauma of Demi Lovato's recent history. The overdose, the hospital treatment, the abuse, the mental health difficulties, and the continual, continual struggle to forge a positive, lasting identity. Reviewing her new album - so broad, so challenging, and so deeply personal in its scope - is almost a fools' errand.
The official tracklist for Dancing With the Devil...The Art of Starting Over labels it a "Prelude" - three songs in direct reference to Lovato's nearly-fatal drug overdose in 2018. But to start an album with such heart-wrenching agony, as is heard on "Anyone", is a risk that falls beyond mere introductions. It is a call to action, a plea to remember the past and gently carry it into the present.
This review contains mentions of rape and sexual assault. At the 2008 American Music Awards, Demi Lovato--then Disney's leading lady for her star turn in Camp Rock--smiled as a red-carpet reporter asked about the inspiration behind her pop-punk solo music. "Believe it or not, being 16, I've been through a lot," she answered with a dignified giggle. "Come on, how much heartbreak can you have at 16?" the man insisted.
The year may only be four months old, but it already seems that 2021 will be the year that we finally take stock on how the media, and wider society, treated young female celebrities at the start of the century. Whether it be uncomfortable David Letterman interviews with the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, or the sad, disturbing documentary Framing Britney Spears, it’s clear that those were dark days indeed. Demi Lovato‘s story is arguably one of the most harrowing.
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