The Playlist: Joanne by Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga returns with an album rooted in rock, folk, and heart.

I’ve written about my love of Lady Gaga in the past; needless to say, when I heard there was a new album on the horizon, I was extremely excited. Her last release, Artpop, was a change in direction for Gaga, and not necessarily for the better. I was hoping that she would come back once again and reinvent herself.

She brought on Mark Ronson (who is the producer of choice lately), to help her with her latest album, Joanne. Joanne is definitely a 180-degree turn from her previous effort, and the rawness found within each track is big. This reinvention is definitely toned down compared to Gaga’s past... but in a good way. She is not as in your face with the excess and instead shows a more personal side on this album.

The album title itself is a tribute to her deceased aunt, Joanne, and after killing it on SNL this past weekend, I was ready to dig into Gaga’s new album.

Album of the Week

Joanne by Lady Gaga 

Right off the bat, you know this album is different with Diamond Heart. The song is a pop rocker and a great one at that. Diamond Heart features a killer drum beat, impressive guitar work, and manages to maintain a dance beat from beginning to end. I’m already digging the change in direction.

A-YO starts off sounding country before Mark Ronson swoops in and puts his signature touch on it. There’s not much else to say, as the greatness of A-YO speaks for itself. This one has “hit single” written all over it!

The country vibe is in full effect with Joanne’s title track; this ballad showcases Lady Gaga’s incredible voice and is accompanied by a twangy acoustic guitar. Joanne is a tribute to Gaga’s aunt who had a profound effect on her, and the song definitely pays a fitting tribute. I always feel Gaga is at her best when she lets her voice do all the work and this time is no different.

Dancin’ In Circles is a total throwback to Fame-era Gaga. This one feels a little out of place on Joanne, but it’s a good song for fans who may not be fully on board with her new sound.

Perfect Illusion was the first taste fans got of Joanne’s distinctive new sound when it dropped last month. I think Perfect Illusion is just plain awesome; it’s a rocker for sure, and Gaga’s voice seems meant for rock music. I’ve been listening to this song constantly since it debuted, and am certain this song is going to kill it live.

Gaga performed an amazing version of Million Reasons on SNL this past weekend. This is another one of those songs that highlights Gaga’s vocal chops and how amazing her raw voice can be. This song continues the album’s country feel, and I feel is the best song on the album.

Hey Girl is Gaga’s team up with Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine. Hey Girl puts a modern spin on a 70s “yacht rock” style. It’s not every day that two of the most talented voices in music join forces and totally knock it out of the park.

Standout Tracks: Million Reasons, A-YO, Perfect Illusion

The Playlist: October 25, 2016

Don’t Wanna Know by Maroon 5 (ft. Kendrick Lamar) 

Maroon 5 have carved out a little niche for themselves that I like to call “Mom Rock” and their latest track, Don’t Wanna Know, follows this formula perfectly. Maroon 5 rocketed up the charts this week thanks to this song, proving once again that they are just hit machines.

Back To The River by The Pretty Reckless (ft. Warren Hayes) 

The Pretty Reckless changed up their sound substantially over their previous efforts. The hard rock side of the band has subsided a bit and in its place comes a more southern rock/Janis Joplin sound. Back to the River, off their new album Who You Selling For (which was released this week), is a must-listen.

Not Easy by Alex Da Kid (ft. Elle King, X Ambassadors & Wiz Khalifa)

British producer Alex Da Kid signed up a “who’s who” of today’s hottest artists and brought them together for his first single after years of producing for artists like Eminem and Imagine Dragons. Not Easy is a great track and has “instant hit” written all over it. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what else Alex Da Kid does next.

Blow Your Mind by Dua Lipa 

Dua Lipa is pretty special in that she has only released singles so far and not a full-length album. However, each single seems to build off of the last one and this new one is her best. It mixes that fun party pop sound of Charlie XCX with a soulful voice and catchy as hell chorus. Blow Your Mind will be climbing the charts this fall so definitely keep an ear out.

A Minute to Breathe by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross 

Trent Reznor has a pretty sweet side gig going when he isn’t doing his Nine Inch Nails thing. This track from the soundtrack for the upcoming National Geographic documentary series Before the Flood has a vibe that goes back to the days of NIN’s The Fragile album. Sometimes Trent is at his best with his ultra-slow, quiet songs, and A Minute to Breathe fits that perfectly.

Nothing Personal by Night Riots 

Night Riots are a throwback to that synth-rock 80s music like Depeche Mode or The Cure, and for anyone missing this sound, Night Riots are your answer. Nothing Personal off their album Love Gloom does a fantastic job of taking Night Riots back to their roots.

If you enjoy putting together playlists, be sure to check out some of my other picks including and Frank Ocean’s latest album which deserves another look, or The Playlist which features another totally out there album by Bon Iver.