It must be the week for music icons in their ‘60s to release landmark new records. Not only did we see 66-year-old Elton John release the remarkably defining record The Diving Board this week, but 67-year-old Cher is out with Closer To the Truth, her first record in nearly 12 years.
I gotta be honest: I was impressed with Elton John, but I was flabbergasted by Cher.
Seriously. While all this news is swirling around about Cher’s recent unflattering comments regarding Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, and how yesterday’s provocateur is criticizing today’s would-be vixen, I’m sitting here going, “Forget Miley…have you heard Cher’s record???”
When Cher told Reuters concerning the album, “This is my best effort ever…I’m singing better than ever,” my knee-jerk reaction was, Yeah, right—no one sings better in their 60s than they did in their earlier years. But it turns out she is not delusional; Cher knows when she’s singing well. And she’s absolutely right: this is some of the best vocal work she’s done—at the very least, it stands up against her best from previous years. And at 67, that isn’t merely impressive—it’s unheard of.
Now, I’m not gonna say there hasn’t been some doctoring-up in the studio here and there. This is a woman who has never been afraid of improving her looks artificially, so it follows that she wouldn’t be above a little post-production audio improvements, as well. (Let’s not forget that it was Cher’s single “Believe” that essentially brought auto-tune into vogue as an effect in the electro-pop vein.) But there’s a difference between using a studio magic to mask poor talent and using it to enhance actual talent—and it’s easy to detect that in Cher’s case, she’s doing the latter. In the numerous moments on the album where her vocals are unaffected, you can tell her voice is in top form. Only in a few spots toward the end of the track list can we hear a bit of a rasp, and in those spots it simply adds character to the song.
For Closer To the Truth, Cher stays pretty close to the electro-dance formula that has worked for her over the past years, venturing more toward pop ballads as we get to the end of the record. The opening track and lead single “Woman’s World” and follow-up track “Take It Like a Man” are both certainly hit material, with “Red” and “I Walk Alone” also being close contenders. When the beats stop, Cher’s vocal range really becomes evident on ballads like “Sirens” and “I Hope You Find It” (which, ironically, was first sung by Miley Cyrus). Really, though, you could insert almost any song title into these examples; you’ll be hard pressed to find a cut on this record that doesn’t have some measure of hit quality.
The thing I find most remarkable about this album is how effortlessly Cher seems to carry it off. This doesn’t sound like an aging woman trying to prove her continued viability in the music market; this simply sounds like timeless Cher, putting out an album that hits the same mark of excellence as anything she’s done before. If you ask me, the real news story here isn’t Cher’s diss of Miley Cyrus; it’s the fact that she’s made a record in her 60s that outclasses anything Miley has ever done, or probably ever will do. If Closer To the Truth doesn’t net Cher another Grammy, it will be nothing short of robbery.