by Luis Gomez
For people who don’t care about Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga’s Joanne is her first release since 2013’s ARTPOP, and for those people, Joanne is going to be a weird departure from what people consider ‘Gaga.’ For people who did pay attention to that thing she did with Tony Bennett, the content of Joanne probably sits at an unhappy midpoint between the crazy dance-pop nonsense of her earlier career and the actual jazz stylings of Cheek to Cheek.
Joanne is much more personal than much of Gaga’s other work, but that personal nature leads to a lot of strange genre hopping that definitely makes sense for Stefani but doesn’t make much sense for anyone else. Tracks like “Diamond Heart” and “A-Yo” are fun, if cheesy, dance-rock type things. “Perfect Illusion,” the album’s first single, is a more Gaga-esque track, powerful and emotional and waiting for Martin Garrix to remix it into a club song. The rest, though, straddles a line between awkward country, awkward ballads, and just kinda eh. For example, “John Wayne” has some really interesting production, except for the country bro rock beat and the fact that Gaga sounds like she doesn’t know what to do with her voice, which is actually a common problem on this record. I honestly don’t know what to think about this record – Gaga has consciously rejected her A E S T H E T I C and that’s cool and all, but I don’t know if this new direction is the way to go.