… Not That She Ever Went Away

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Closer To The Truth
Cher
Warner Bros. Records

 

WELL, our über-goddess is at it again. Defying all industry expectations, the Lazarus of pop has a new album, Closer To The Truth, and it debuted at number three on the Billboard charts, her highest-charting solo album ever, even beating the behemoth Believe that crested at number four. Her only record that charted higher was in 1965. Sonny and Cher’s Look At Us, which featured “I Got You Babe,” peaked at number two. With 48 years in the top five, she now surpasses Barbra Streisand’s longevity for a female artist at the top of the charts.

Cher’s newest CD is led by Paul Oakenfold’s thundering empowerment anthem, “Woman’s World,” her eighth number-one song on the dance/club charts, cementing the diva’s streak as the only artist to score the top spot on the Billboard singles charts in each of the last six decades. As Cher would say, “Follow this, you bitches.”

The album contains lots of dance-pop subsumed with vocoder effects, a blush of country, and power ballads with resurgent hooks galore. The second single off the album, a country-tinged rendition of a Miley Cyrus song, “I Hope You Find It,” flawlessly features the singer’s husky contralto and appeals to adult contemporary fans worldwide. The label chose this song to lead the album in Europe to great success.

Cher
She’s blonde again! “I need to give the Cher drag queens a run for their money!”

A supercharged camp-straganza, “Take It Like a Man,” features Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters with lyrics full of queer double-entendres: “Boy if you want my heart,/ You gotta take it like a man./ … So when the lights go dark, I wanna know you understand.” Auto-tuned verses and choruses cascade and are joyfully synthesized together in this fun dance-floor romp. Sadly, a promised duet with Lady Gaga was dropped after Gaga felt it wasn’t good enough.

The pop singer Pink contributes two lyrically substantive ballads tailor-made for Cher’s vocal theatrics, particularly the heart-wrenching “Lie to Me.” Pink lends back-up singing support on her other contribution, “I Walk Alone,” which starts as a folk-country stomp with an acoustic banjo, but then swells into an up-tempo swagger showcasing the superstar’s booming vibrato. Cher, not always a fan of her own work, claims that this one, her 26th solo record, is her best.

A curiosity on the album is “Lovers Forever,” a song Cher co-wrote with Shir-ley Eikhard in 1994 intended for the film Interview with the Vampire. The song was rejected then, and Cher kept it in the vault, updating it now with echo-chamber electronic sound. The deluxe edition contains three other songs, including “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from Cher’s 2010 movie Burlesque. It was a mediocre film, but a great theme song, exquisitely performed.

At 67, the inimitable icon is going back on the road yet again with her “Dressed To Kill” tour. Bob Mackie is designing the costumes, so we’re guaranteed a queen’s trove of kitsch fabulosity. And after the tour, there’s no slowing her down: Cher has written a Broadway musical drawn from her catalogue featuring three actresses portraying her at different ages; Logo has optioned a pilot that she co-wrote for a potential series about the music scene of the 1960s; and there’s that long-awaited tell-all autobiography out there somewhere. That’s the indomitable Cher, proving once again that she’ll outlive us all.

 

John R. Killacky is executive director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont. 

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