On March 18, Gwen Stefani released This is What the Truth Feels Like, her long awaited third solo album. The twelve-song tracklist features a serious dichotomy between heartbreak and blossoming new love, attracting the attention of fans and drama lovers alike. This album’s theme is not a surprise to Gwen Stefani fans for two reasons: Stefani went from crumbling under the pressure of a public divorce to dating a new man, and any and all songs Stefani writes seem to drip with angst, the lyrics reading somewhat like a diary.
For months, celebrity gossip websites have been creating theories as to which song is about whom. Many seem to revel in the idea of “Used to Love You” being about now-ex-husband Gavin Rossdale. On the flip side, the idea of “Misery” or “Make Me Like You” being about current boyfriend Blake Shelton pulls the attention of the public eye.
Regardless of the supposed drama behind the album, Stefani created a collective work that ultimately embodies a complete therapeutic experience, both for herself and for listeners that can relate to the personal issues addressed. Otherwise, the album is just classic breakup pop.
What the Truth Feels Like immediately jumps into the seemingly inevitable theme of mixed pleasure and anguish with “Misery.” The next two songs, “You’re My Favorite” and “Where Would I Be,” give a rather similar tone, branching out only by the style of pop beat.
Past this point, the songs shuffle between past and present, mourning and celebration–and an oddly playful ode or two to terrible exes, which seem to revive the album as it returns to a classically quirky Stefani style.
From “Truth,” listeners see how Stefani discovers her new interpretation of the truth, adding her surprise and relief at the development of a new romantic connection. The positive side of the album continues in the form of rather flirty songs, including “Send Me a Picture” and “Asking 4 It,” which insists that her new love will have to put up with a good bit if truly willing to engage with Stefani. Luckily, the album ends on a positive note with “Rare,” a track dedicated to appreciating the love she has now. The coy songs balanced with the optimistically honest songs provide a sense of hope for listeners–a relief for fans, who most likely became concerned over Stefani’s painfully public personal life.
Her past still does not quite shake off in this album, however, as suggested by “Used To Love You,” “Red Flag,” and “Naughty.” From explaining deep pain to mocking her exes, Stefani puts all dirty laundry out to dry, not quite leaving any past “stains” unwrung.
Ultimately, despite the feelings in the album revealing themselves in stages, the reminiscent songs and optimistic songs compete throughout the album. No order is evident; which, considering Gwen Stefani’s artistic style, may turn out to have been a creative decision. The passionate back and forth of the album truly manifests her style via somewhat sugary pop tunes with her unique vocals, even occasionally featuring a slight dance hall sound at some points and simple piano at others.
The album seems less like a product for sale and more like an artist’s stress ball. Stefani has sold it regardless, the album debuting at #1 on the iTunes album chart. After examining each song individually, it appears the candid nature of the lyrics and catchy made-for-radio beats have captured the public’s attention.
For recommendation’s sake: this album is for those healing after a breakup, rejoicing in a new relationship or simply willing to feel some sympathy while two-stepping to some mainstream radio tunes.