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Cher: 'Closer To The Truth'

Cher’s latest release, ‘Closer to the Truth’, bounced back into the Top Ten on Billboard’s 200 Chart last Thursday (10/24/13).  Bouncing back up into the top ten after having been on the charts for four weeks?  A rare occurrence these days.  She’s also been the greatest sales gainer for the past two weeks.  No mean feat!

The album debuted at #4, fell to #8 its second week, fell to #11 the third (but was still the greatest sales gainer that week), before landing back at #8 this past week.  Pretty amazing considering a number of factors; namely, lack of a viable hit single (‘Woman’s World’ went number one on the Club Play Chart without making even a token appearance on the Hot 100), and the fact that veteran acts simply aren’t garnering these kind of sales anymore. 

To put it in perspective, Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ debuted at #1 and then had its sales fall a scandalous 87% (a new record) in week two – a pattern that is becoming the norm for veteran acts.

So, what is the secret to Cher’s success?  I think its twofold.  First off, she’s remained accessible, alienating none of her fan base over the years.  This loyal following has resulted in sold out tours and respectable CD sales. Secondly, the CD, while not without flaws, is pretty good – as in – exactly what her fan base expects of her at this point in her career. 

Sure, she breaks no new ground, but she also doesn’t embarrass herself chasing markets that don’t suit her stature.  Let’s face it; at this point it would be unseemly for Cher to be singing in detail about the physical aspects of sex.  Therefore, all romance is referred in the most generic of terms which sadly results in a lot of well-worn phrases being tossed about.  Cliché’?  Or Classic? Let’s just say the lady knows when to take the high road and she does so with style.

That style?  It’s a little all over the place, which, if you take a look at Cher’s legendary career, is right on the money.  Almost every incarnation of Cher can be found within the various grooves on ‘Closer to the Truth’: Cher the balladeer rules the second half of the disc, while ‘Believe’ era Cher rules the first.  Sprinkled in there are lots of slices of classic late 80’s/early 90’s Cher, the faux rocker chick.

Quick Fun: Four fun facts about 'Closer To The Truth':

1/ The track 'Lovers Forever' was written in 1994 and originally intended for the film version of 'Interview With A Vampire'. Listen to the lyrics and you'll see how specific they are to that film. 

2/ Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters appears on 'Take It Like A Man'

3/ P!nk co-wrote the album closer, 'Lie To Me'

4/ A collaboration with Lady Gaga was dropped from the CD at the last minute because Lady G didn't like the track. Cher does, and plays it privately for friends. 

Oh, did I mention that Cher had a hand in writing the songs on the CD.  Perhaps that's why she sounds more invested than on her last one.

And speaking of writing, when you’re Cher, why settle for subtly when sweeping, oversized statements fit the bill.  The diva is definitely fully-engaged here, enjoying the hell out of yodeling such commands as, ‘Surrender to me now’ and making such declarations as ‘It’s a woman’s world’.

Under the guidance of producers Mark Taylor, Billy Mann, and dance floor filler Paul Oakenfold, ‘Closer to the Truth’ sounds modern and glossy, with nary a natural breath to be heard.  Not unlike the photos that accompany the CD, every song has been honed to a glossy, easy-to-consume, eye/ear catching finish.  I’d single out the highlights, but the truth is there isn’t a bad track in the bunch.  

That said, while everything is top notch and high quality, there isn’t what I would call an exceptional track, say, something on the same level of ‘Believe’, to be found.  

Sure, the lyrics, particularly some of the choruses, are cringe worthy, if only for the fact that we’ve heard it all before.  Did there really need to be yet another pop song called ‘Dressed to Kill’, ‘Take It Like A Man’, or ‘Red’?  

And, yes, things feel a bit old school, but hey… keep in mind that the lady is in her sixth decade.  Today’s teeny-bopper sexual sloganism which renders all songs something akin to naughty nursery rhymes isn’t for Cher, who long ago finely honed her storyteller chops.

All the dance cuts are great, cheesy fun, while the ballads that anchor the second half find our diva in good voice and form.  ‘Sirens’, which drips with U2’s bombastic balladeer style, is a true haunter. It’s during that song’s final moments that we hear Cher at her most vulnerable.  And that is just a hint as to why this CD works; it’s obvious to the listener that the woman is in love with each and every one of these songs.

All told (and in light of its sales), it’s hard to not declare the whole thing an absolute triumph. 

But then, what else did you expect?

It’s Cher. 


O!Daddie now at said...

I'm going to go to one of her concerts just as soon as I have an extra $375 to spare!!

whkattk said...

I'll get the CD eventually. I've seen her in concert several times and the woman never disappoints!