It has been 10 years since Gwen Stefani released The Sweet Escape, and it has definitely been a long road to get to her third album, This Is What The Truth Feels Like. When she started working on a new album in 2014, she didn’t feel inspired. The project fell through after she released the singles “Baby Don’t Lie” and “Spark The Fire,” and her personal life crumbled as her marriage became tabloid fodder. During a very public divorce from her husband of 13 years, Gwen finally got her spark back. She used the pain of heartbreak, and the joy of new love (with country star Blake Shelton), to jump right back into a new album, and this time, the passion was there.
This Is What The Truth Feels Like reflects what Gwen has been through over the last year: it’s a breakup album, it’s a fun, single gal album, and it’s an album about love. My first reaction was that this record is definitely not Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Her debut album, it seems, just cannot be matched. But the album does feel undeniably “Gwen.”
“Used To Love You,” the lead single, shocked fans by its sheer vulnerability; it’s a stark departure from Gwen’s past singes, with much more emotion than we’re used to from her. It’s great to see her harness all that pain into such a passionate song. While “Used To Love You” shows so much sadness and represents her struggle, “Me Without You” shows Gwen rising up and accepting that she’s alone, and she’s ready to embrace it (“Now I’m me without you/And things about to get real good”).
Nothing on the album sums up “new love” quite like “Make Me Like You.” The infectious disco-inspired track will undoubtedly make you happy, and I think that’s what Gwen was going for. It’s a wholesome, adorable love song, and it shows how much this new relationship has affected the singer. Love him or hate him, Blake Shelton has been a huge inspiration for Gwen and we’re not complaining!
“Send Me A Picture” is definitely a standout on the album. Reminiscent of last summer’s massive hit “Lean On,” it has the potential to be equally as popular if Gwen plays her cards right. It has a very cool 90s-esque trance sound, very danceable and radio-friendly. If she releases it as a single right before the summer, she could have a huge hit on her hands.
Gwen has managed to last this long in the music industry because of that special quality that caught our eye all those years ago when she debuted with No Doubt. “Red Flag,” “Naughty,” and “Obsessed” (which you will be “Obsessed” with it — get it? Ha ha ha!) are all quintessential Gwen: her unique voice intertwines with interesting combinations of beats and sounds, while she playfully talk-sings and experiments with tempo. Even in her 40s, she’s the ultimate cool girl.
When Gwen releases an album, you don’t just expect a plain old pop record. You expect a production, something unique — and with This Is What The Truth Feels Like, that’s exactly what she does. The deluxe edition of the album closes with the song “Loveable,” almost as a reminder to herself that she can be loved again. But we certainly didn’t need reminding.
4 out of 5 stars
Must-Listen Tracks: “Send Me A Picture,” “Obsessed,” “Make Me Like You,” “Red Flag”
Buy This Is What The Truth Feels Like on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/this-is-what-truth-feels-like/id1082903152