Don't tell Lady Gaga how to search for inspiration.The pop star isn't taking criticism too lightly this era. She put The Chainsmokers in their place after they said "Perfect Illusion" "sucks," batted down a Madonna comparison, took Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney to task for his piss poor reaction to "Perfect Illusion" and now has a few choice words for Jon Caramanica from the New York Times for his scathing review of Joanne, which surfaced ahead of schedule on Monday. Overall, Caramanica finds Joanne forced and ponderous.
The stripped-down “Joanne,” isn’t daring or radical — it’s logical, a rejoinder to her past and also to the candy-striped pop that surrounds her.
But while “Joanne” is elemental, nothing about it is bare. Instead, it’s confused, full of songs that feel like concepts in search of a home, small theater pieces extruded from other imaginary productions and collected in one miscellany bin. It’s naïve in its use of roots music and rock as signifiers of something true — as if the excess of years past wasn’t, somehow, its own form of sincerity.
Even the best parts of “Joanne” — and for all this album’s flaws, it has several strong moments — don’t tell a coherent story. Lady Gaga is, now as ever, an impressive if not especially nuanced singer. Often on this album, she sings with a stern, terse vibrato that codes seriousness from a distance but feels more like a simulacrum of feeling than the real thing.
Even if that is purposeful, it feels misapplied on an album that pretends to transparency, from an artist for whom the idea of performance is never far away. The title track features what’s presented as the least-performed singing — listen to how she flattens out the vowel sounds, as a sort of gesture of accessibility — but it is too unsteady to lean on.
So, on “Joanne,” she goes on a fishing expedition for inspiration. No pop album in recent memory has featured such a wide array of collaborations that strip those collaborators of their particular charms. Mark Ronson appears throughout this album, as a songwriter and producer, but there’s precious little of his reliable funk.Lady Gaga responded Wednesday afternoon and again Thursday morning. "how far must ANYONE need to 🎣4 inspiration & write a song re: the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin as I did w/ 'Angel Down'," she said. Gaga was recently featured in the New York Times. "I'll be performing that song tonight in honor of #BlackLivesMatter as I'm honored by YOUR publication. Tune in Jon.👂🏿#JOANNE" She adds: "don't pay attention he has been brutal for YEARS, meaningless. Don't let it bring you down this is OUR time to celebrate! Quiet your mind of all the noise and interference from the truth that's in your heart. Be with friends. Be with family."
@joncaramanica how far must ANYONE need to 🎣4 inspiration & write a song re: the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin as I did w/ "Angel Down".— JOANNE (@ladygaga) October 20, 2016
@joannetattoo Quiet your mind of all the noise and interference from the truth that's in your heart. Be with friends. Be with family.— JOANNE (@ladygaga) October 20, 2016
@Patrickesque don't pay attention he has been brutal for YEARS, meaningless. Don't let it bring you down this is OUR time to celebrate!🎉🎉🎉🎉— JOANNE (@ladygaga) October 20, 2016