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Review: Gwen Stefani – “This is What the Truth Feels Like”

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Make me like you? I could get used to this. I used to love you, and frankly, I never stopped.
    OK, enough already. EVERYONE has heard the new Gwen Stefani album, correct? If not, stop right now, get on your Apple Play and listen to that mo-fo!! Our girl is back! It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything from her except tabloid rumors and Voice promotions. This is What the Truth Feels Like brings back Gwen in her first solo album since 2006’s The Sweet Escape.
So… kind of a big deal.
    Even as I write this, I just got little chill pimples from the memories of singing those catchy tunes in my mini van with the kid-lets, who are now man-children about to move away to college (insert tears, sniffles… and moving on).
    I can’t get enough of Gwen. In my other life, I am a photographer and pseudo make-up artist/stylist. Gwen encompasses the very essence of what I live and die for in every day life. Those eyes, that confidence, the style, all that is Stefani! I just want to get her in front of my lens and play for at least a whole day. She is “photo-gasmic”! So much that you almost, almost, forget that she can sing.
    I want to just take a few moments to examine this album from the inside out. Come on, let’s  take a look, shall we?
    First of all, Gwen’s story seems to begin with a  glamorous pseudo-Playboy photo session. The album itself is completely gorgeous. I don’t know if I’ve seen her this beautiful since the Hewlett-Packard campaign of 2006. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that at 46, she has never looked better.
    When we unfold the booklet within, we journey into Gwen’s bedroom and into the studio, for some more playful shots in a Monroe throwback type bundle of loveliness.
She can’t be a day over 20.
    Seriously Gwen, what’s in the serum or what did you promise to the devil? She looks amazing.
Stunning.
Staggering.
    While I’m starting to question my sexuality, let’s keep moving.
Can we please talk about the bubble writing? Let’s not kid ourselves, pun intended, every girl had a journal just like the one Gwen has laid out before us here.
Since when has album art been this fun?
    I feel like I should post spoiler alerts here for all of this loveliness. In typical Gwen fashion, this whole musical bundle is just cute. It’s sassy, spicy, and you can just feel the girlishness gushing out of the package (oooohhhh… teenage audience draw! Good one Gwen…nicely done).
    Now I know no one really buys CD’s anymore, but vinyl is back in. Of course, there’s always the digital download. Invest in the whole thing. Why? Well, because…all the feels. Also, can someone please turn all this art into a font? I’d really appreciate that. Thanks.
    Now onto the hard stuff. Let’s dig deeper. We’ve fallen in love with the fact that Gwen is back, and that she’s so damn gorgeous. So, let’s take a listen.
Everyone, take a break for listening time. No, seriously, go do it.
Really. No, seriously…STOP READING AND LISTEN TO THE WHOLE ALBUM!
    Did you listen? Don’t you feel better? Did you dance in your seat a little bit? Don’t lie, we all did the butt-cheek rumba to “Misery”. It’s ok to admit it. It wasn’t what I was expecting either.
    Wait, before you storm off, hear me out. Let’s chat a little bit. Over the last 48 hours I have listened to this album no less than 20 times. Each time I listen to it, I feel Gwen’s pain a little bit more. Clearly, she spent a deep amount of time on each lyric.
    The first half of the album from “Misery” to “Used to Love You” is radio-worthy. She’s obviously grown up more than just a little bit, and her voice is nothing less than spectacular. “Used to Love You” reaches through, wraps it’s acrylic-nailed fingers around your pulsating heart, rips it from your chest, throws it on the floor, and stomps all over it. If that wasn’t enough, pull up the video.
Yeah, you’re welcome.
    “Make me Like You” may be my favorite track on the album. This is definitely worthy of what we’ve been waiting for. So glad you’re back Gwen. We’ve missed you, even though you never really went away.
OK, let’s skip over “Send me a Picture”, because…blah. Let’s talk about “Red Flag”. Gwen, seriously, WHAT THE [email protected]%???? “Red Flag” is reminiscent of “Ex-Girlfriend” and not in a good way. Gwen takes on rapping in that weird, funky method that only Lady Gaga can get away with.
    The next 4 songs are definitely B-Sides. While I don’t want to ruin the album for you, it’s like she just gave up after track 6. I will say “Me Without You” should be shuffled up in the list to number 7, and we could’ve just stopped there and trashed the rest.
    So then we have to consider it as a whole. Are 7 decent songs on an album really OK? I’m gonna go with…yes! All in all, I loved this album. Isn’t the point of iTunes to be able to select and make playlists of the songs we love and trash the others? I know, I know. Some of you have your mouths gaping,  open with a claw-filtered over going “Na-uh, she did NOT just say that”.
Yep.
    Yep, I did. All artists have not-so-great songs on albums, but not all artists have the ability to take the awful songs into a deeper level of embarrassing. So please, just stick with tracks 1-6, shuffle in 11, enjoy the album art and call it a day. We all want to keep on loving you Gwen.
    Gwen, I do love you. I love that funky style you have and your flawless skin. When I heard Tragic Kingdom straight out of the package before anyone else back in 1995, I played it over and over and over until my husband wanted to throw it out the car window. So much of what you’re doing here on side B is like a mistakenly bad throwback to that time. I’m not going to love you any less. However, I’m going to have to give this album a solid B+. I know there will be haters. You probably deserve better, but I can’t with good conscience give it to you.
    The B+ rating will NOT stop me from seeing the show this summer, or emulating a photo session of my own with these image influences. I’m going to love this album for what it is, and girl I will see you on the road.
I promise to bring Chamomile.
Album Rating: B+

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