Album Review: "This Is What The Truth Feels Like" by Gwen Stefani
by Nicholaus James Jodlowski | published Apr. 4th, 2016
Ten years since her last solo album, Gwen Stefani has had her fans on the edge and craving new material from the former No Doubt singer.
The first duo of singles she dropped after effectively ending her hiatus, "Baby Don’t Lie" and "Spark The Fire," were good songs, but they lacked Stefani’s character. In those songs, you could hear her voice, but not her as a person. After a few months went by, and Stefani announced her divorce from her husband Gavin Rossdale, it was also announced that she was scrapping all planned material for her album and starting fresh. This news upset many people but also brought hope for something greater.
As she was working on the new album, her emotional state was compared to her's on No Doubt’s "Tragic Kingdom" era, causing the album to become highly anticipated. The moment she dropped the first single off the album "Used To Love You," you could feel that classic Stefani was back.
"This Is What The Truth Feels Like" broke all expectations I had for Gwen Stefani and raised the bar higher than ever before. In every song you can feel Stefani's vulnerable and raw side. The album is a perfect snapshot of what was going on in her life during her divorce.
As soon as the first song "Misery" comes on, you're immediately drawn into Gwen’s voice. You can hear classic Gwen but a new side of her as well. The entire atmosphere of the album is a slightly earthy, reggae fusion sound but still keeps the pop sound that Gwen’s solo albums always contain.
"You’re My Favorite" stands out as the most “Stefani-esque” and sets up the rest of the album perfectly. Every song on the album doesn’t sound like filler at all, or like it doesn’t belong as a part of the whole experience. "Where Would I Be?" and "Make Me Like You" have a retro feel but still remain playful, showing that Stefani still has it even after nearly two decades of being an artist.
The title track "Truth" is where Stefani really comes out as more vulnerable and raw. You can hear the emotion in each breath she takes after every line. This is where the album takes a turn to the more emotional side. The way Stefani writes her songs and showcases her emotions musically is something that really can’t be taught.
"Send Me a Picture" is a smooth, seductive song, but feels slightly lackluster compared the other songs. "Red Flag" makes up for the last track as Stefani goes hard and actually raps as she playfully jokes with her previous exes. The energy of the album gets higher before it slides into "Asking 4 It" featuring Fetty Wap, where the sound cools down a little but is still easy to dance to. "Naughty" is one of those songs that sounds like a jazz tune before the beat drops and hits you in the face. This song is one of those songs that would be amazing to see live with the transitions of the music and the various genres mixed through it. The album then slows down with the last two songs "Me Without You" and "Rare," and goes back to the vulnerable side of Stefani.
The album as a whole seems perfect both conceptually and musically, and it was well worth the wait for another Stefani solo album. Stefani has matured over the years since her first album, "Love Angel Music Baby," and this album shows an evident transition when you listen to the dancehall crazy L.A.M.B. and then listen to the electro, reggae-fusion pop on "This Is What The Truth Feels Like."
"Truth" is probably one of Gwen Stefani’s strongest albums to date. It shows the world that just because she has been in the industry for a long time she can't be done with making new music. Stefani always knows how to make something sound specifically like her and not like everything else playing on the radio. Out of all the albums in 2016, "Truth" stands out to be the strongest. The queen has slain once more.
Highlights: "Misery," "You’re My Favorite," "Where Would I Be?," "Truth," "Used To Love You," "Red Flag," "Naughty," "Me Without You"