It’s been 12 long years since Cher’s last album.
Since 2001’s “Living Proof,” the mother of all divas has gone on a two-year farewell tour, had a stint in Vegas and a movie with Christina Aguilera. Meanwhile, the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson have dominated the female pop music scene and, for better or worse, have changed the musical landscape for artists like Cher.
But Cher is a survivor, and like any good survivor, she adapts to change. Her “been there, done that” attitude garners her respect, her lustrous cornucopia of hits through six decades prove she’s somewhat impervious to pop culture shifts.
If anything, her latest album “Closer to the Truth,” which dropped this week, sends the message that she’s back and as good as she’s ever been. The bass thumping opener and first single, “Woman’s World” went to No. 1 on Billboard’s dance chart, but really ends up being one of the least exciting tracks when you compare it to everything else here.
“Take it Like a Man” may sound a bit dated and more suited for her preceding album, but ends up a fun dance romp with Scissor Sisters’ front man Jake Shears providing additional vocals.
“Red” is a club-ready dance hit waiting to happen, while the Lady Gaga-esque “Dressed to Kill” is catchy and sultry and just happens to be the namesake of her upcoming world tour (she stops by the Verizon Center on April 4).
The interestingly titled “Favorite Scars” shows that those pipes of hers are still hanging in there quite nicely. The country-sounding “Lie to Me” is one of two songs written by Pink and starts off with the cheeky lyric “Oh fuck, just lie to me tell me something sweet.” “Lovers Forever” was originally intended for the soundtrack to the 1994 film “Interview with a Vampire,” and makes a nice home smack in the middle of this lopsided album.
What starts off as a danceable continuation of “Living Proof” ends up being an album of surprisingly refreshing tracks. Don’t be fooled by the guilty pleasures on the first half of the album, all the gems are hidden in the latter half.
Standouts include Pink’s second writing contribution “I Walk Alone,” the lingering ballad “Sirens” that harkens back to her “Heart of Stone” days, and “I Hope You Find It,” currently being promoted as her next single.
While this is not quite the epic comeback album “Believe” was in 1999, it’s more varied and satisfying than the club-oriented “Living Proof.” The 11-track album can be purchased on its own or as a deluxe version with three additional tracks: The Timbaland-produced “I Don’t Have to Sleep to Dream,” “Pride,” which appears to be an uplifting shout out to her gay audience, and the powerhouse Diane Warren-penned ballad from her 2010 movie “Burlesque,” “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”
“Pride” makes the deluxe version worth getting. An exclusive Target store deluxe version is available as well. It includes two unnecessary dance mixes of “Woman’s World” and the somber “Will You Wait for Me” which, if album singles still existed, would probably have ended up a lost B-side.