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The Earliest Bird: The Top New Release 4-2-21 – 4 8-21 Demi Lovato’s “Dancing With The Devil…The Art Of Starting Over” Reviewed

Ariana Grande is on one song here, “Met Him Last Night,” it isn’t much but it isn’t bad, but while they share a manager in the dreaded Scooter Braun that isn’t why it matters. It matters because Demi Lovato’s  Dancing With The Devil…The Art of Starting Over wouldn’t be possible without thank u, next. The two albums are exposition and exploration of personal triumph and loss by two former child actors (Demi is a Disney girl, Ariana on Nickelodeon) who grew up in entertainment and paid a price for it. Ariana is 27, Demi is 28, as they tail out of their twenties, they are finding a terra firma between self-expression, art, and pop music.

One more thing: apparently it takes a village to make an album in 2021, I counted over 20 producers with their hand in this. Along with the documentary, of which Demi dubbed DWTD an unofficial soundtrack, it is pushback and hard after her 2018 drug overdose  and was left for dead by her dealer (the moral? Marry your dealer).

DWTD is a far from being a great album, but as a disliker of Demi’s fluttery, dog whistle power singing, and over the top performance ever (she is no Christina Aguilera -she just doesn’t have the chops), she has had moments, like the epic “Cool For The Summer,” five years ago  that can remove the bad taste of the just dreadful MOR “Skyscraper”. The album opens with its two best songs, “Anyone” and “Dancing With The Devil” – the former a heartbreaking cri de coeur and the latter drug horrorshow which could be re-written as a Bond theme with ease and manages a verbal hook, “It’s just a little white line, I’ll be fine,” that stands out so well.

Then it gets revved up for an overlong 66 minutes, 22 in total song strip that will turn your brain to mush, but some of the mush is fun. “My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriends” makes explicit what “Cool For The summer” skirted, she feels more friendship than romantic even for the girls she sleeps with, joined by the icy girl herself, Saweetie ( who just broke up with Quavo)  is a blast where “California Sober” is a terrible concept (it means sober except for alcohol and weed) and the song doesn’t sell it. The deluxe ends with with a beautifully voiced though anemic track featuring Sam Smith harmonizing and a welcome remix of of “OK Not To Be OK” featuring Marshmello is icing on the cake.

So, not great, not bad, but for her seventh album a serious attempt at Pop-Art.

Grade: B (Upped to B+ if it is a HUGE hit)

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