Gwen Stefani finally releases third solo album
Remember the days when Gwen Stefani had hit after hit with singles like ‘What You Waiting For?’, ‘Hollaback Girl’ and ‘The Sweet Escape’? The release of her second solo album is already ten years ago, so it is quite surprising that we are actually getting a third one! The No Doubt singer took her sweet time to say the least, as the album she was about to release after single ‘Baby Don’t Lie’ got scrapped to record another one. Is This Is What The Truth Feels Like worth the wait though?
If you are a follower of gossip news, you already know Stefani went through quite a turbulent period in her personal life. Her marriage to Gavin Rossdale ended after 13 years and she started dating her The Voice colleague Blake Shelton. Of course these events provided her with a lot of inspiration, as basically every song on the album is about her divorce or her current relationship (or both). This is not surprising after the release of first single and powerful break up anthem ‘Used To Love You‘ and the infectious ‘Make Me Like You‘ about falling in love as the second.
The album opens with ‘Misery’, a decent pop song which was announced as third (promo) single, but despite its catchy chorus, is not special enough to be a single or open a comeback album after ten years. Luckily there is still hope for another hit single and her best shot seems to be ‘Where Would I Be?’. The love song in which she asks herself where she would be if it wasn’t for her lover, has a summery reggae vibe and is insanely infectious. In the middle eight we hear her rap again which brings us back to the golden days of ‘Hollaback Girl’. Even after all these years she knows how to make it sound fresh. This seems to be exactly what Stefani should sound like these days!
If there is one track as quirky, original and undeniably catchy as the earlier mentioned worldwide hit on this record, it has to be ‘Red Flag’. Stefani quickly moves from fun to dramatic and from rap singing to emotive vocals. Such a hot mess in the best possible way. She tries something similar on the hip hop inspired ‘Naughty’ and although her sassy delivery is quite brilliant, the track is let down by the fact that a memorable hook is simply not there. If anything, Gwen sounds best when she stays close to a style that suits her unique voice, rather than trend chasing. That is why a song like ‘Asking 4 It’ falls flat, the beautiful chorus of ‘Getting Warmer’ would have been perfect without the weak imitation of a Major Lazer beat in the bridge towards it, while an understated and honest pop song like ‘Truth’ is perfect for Gwen’s third album.
Although the lyrics are not unique or very original all the way through, what makes This Is What The Truth Feels Like are Gwen’s personal stories. We experience her break up with her on ‘Me Without You’, an emotional ballad that turns into a feisty independence anthem, and we share with her the new found love on ‘Rare’, definitely one of the sweetest love songs I have heard in a while. This is a relatable ‘break up and falling in love again’ album and as long as Gwen does Gwen, she still sounds believable and cool, even after ten years!
Must listen: Where Would I Be?, Rare, Me Without You, Getting Warmer, Truth (and of course the singles ‘Make Me Like You’ and ‘Used To Love You’)