Music Review: Lady Gaga gets back on the right track with Joanne

On her flamboyant early albums, Lady Gaga’s fascination with fame led to trenchant societal observations and subversions. The tepid 2013 album Artpop reversed that trend. With its vapid, debauched commentary—the kind at which she once sneered—the record wasn’t from the perspective of an outsider looking askance at celebrity culture, but from an artist who had internalized and embraced fame’s worst facets.

Post-Artpop, Gaga smartly retreated from being, well, Lady Gaga, and dialed back both her music and style. This reinvention involved collaborating with Tony Bennett on a jazz album, Cheek To Cheek; acting on American Horror Story: Hotel; and co-writing a grand, Oscar-nominated song, “Til It Happens To You.” Gaga is wisely keeping these detours separate from her pop career. Joanne, Artpop‘s proper follow-up, contains no ham-fisted attempts at authenticity. Instead, Gaga tries to find a middle ground between her sophisticated present and …

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