The gay icon herself once quipped, “After the Holocaust there still will be cockroaches and Cher.” She’s right. After the disastrous one-two punches of Burlesque and her dismal performance of a dismal single on The Voice, it was impossible not to anticipate the release of her new CD (the first in 11 years!), Closer to the Truth, with anything but trepidation. To make it even worse, the single recorded with Cher-level-wannabe Lady Gaga is nowhere to be found, even though the leaked version was actually entertaining.
Good news: Closer to the Truth is almost vintage Cher — there is no point in comparing her to any other musical standard than her own; that’s like comparing apples and kumquats — not as deliriously wonderful as Take Me Home or as consistently solid as 1987’s Cher, but she is in fine voice and the melodies are solid. Expect innumerable remixes.
The majority of the cuts are up-tempo and make one want to tear off one’s shirt and wave one’s arms in the air. “I Walk Alone” has drama and nicely syncopated phrases, and “Take It Like a Man” survives the return of Auto-Tune to become a triumphant anthem, the gay equivalent of Barry White eroticism. The ballads feel like warm baths that are as deep and luxurious as her rich voice — or a bathhouse hot tub.
There are odd distracting and derivative melody hooks, but Cher powers through and claims them as her own. The themes are survival, strength and perseverance, and this cockroach is a butterfly in armour. Katy Perry can roar all she wants and Gaga can plead for applause, but uber-diva Cher just opens her throat, cranks the drum tracks and gay magic happens.
The infectious track “Dressed to Kill” provides the title for her next tour (after how many farewell tours over the years?), which stops in Toronto on April 7. At that point, Cher will be a month away from 68, but even when she needs a walker it will be covered in sequins (see 2013’s first gayest moment). As she sings, “I’m dressed to kill/And you know that I will/We’re dancing in the dark/With my hands around your heart.”
Click here for a list of Cher's gayest moments.