Dancing with the Devil…The Art of Starting Over: Demi Lovato’s Musical Self-Therapy


R E V I E W – M U S I C  A L B U M


Ayaz Hamid


The modern music industry is a tough place and can be psychologically scarring to players who step into it at a young age, unaware of its darker side and dangers. Demi Lovato went through a similar ordeal. The pop star’s troubled life has been under the covers ever since her Camp Rock days, but the psychological trauma that she has been suffering from as a child has manifested itself in different forms over the years.

The pop star often broke down due to the cumbersome nature of contemporary media and the industry, which led to her having a near-death experience in 2018. She suffered from three strokes, organ failures, and a heart attack due to a drug overdose. She has opened up recently about how she was sexually assaulted at the age of 15 by a Disney co-star and also later by a drug dealer, revealing to the world precisely what has been driving Demi over the edge all these years and to nearly fall into the abyss and give in to her fears and suffering.

Her new album, Dancing with the Devil…The Art of Starting Over, is a masterful and heartfelt rendition of songs spanning over an hour that effectively portrays Demi finally facing her demons and making peace with them.

The album is very personal, and Demi has had no hesitation in speaking her mind and singing about what haunts her the most.  “Anyone” is the first song on the list, and its powerful and gripping lyrics exacerbates the feeling of helplessness and solitude felt by Demi. The piece is hauntingly beautiful and is a decent portrayal of Demi’s challenge with her inner demons as a slow and losing battle.

The next song on the list, “Dancing with the Devil”, is truly the highlight of this album. Lovato lets herself loose here, and the lyrics reflect her doubts and self-destructive tendencies that haunt her and her finally giving in and committing a drug overdose. The solemn yet impactful lyrics, coupled with beautiful vocals and perfect instrumentals, make this song Demi’s best as of yet, if I daresay.

The next song, “ICU”, deals with her waking up in the hospital and suffering from blindness and not even being able to recognise her little sister. This trio of songs draw up a terrifying, serene, and honest picture of Demi’s state of mind and the stylistics of the pieces reflect the same tone. They don’t follow Lovato’s signature pop tune, and there’s a raw and unfiltered quality to these three songs with their piercing lyrics and adjunct instrumentals. This experimental approach is undoubtedly a welcome one as this shows development in both Demi’s personality and music style.

The rest of the album covers various points in Demi Lovato’s life, including her stance on her sexuality and the torment and abuse she was put through in the music industry, reflected in the songs “California Sober” and “Lonely People” respectively.

There’s also a beautiful rendition of “Mad World” covered by Demi, and this cover truly highlights the merits of her voice. There are other pieces as well, such as a collab with Ariana Grande; all of them at the end of the day show how Demi is trying to move on and fight her trauma through her music and the comfortable arms of her soothing lyrics.

Overall, this album is one of redemption, and it feels like more of a ballad than a typical pop-electronic album. The lyrics hold significant weight in most songs, and the listeners genuinely get to understand the magnitude of suffering that Demi Lovato had to undergo and is still fighting against to become a new person who’s satisfied with what she has, but is still eager to cross new boundaries and explore the best of herself. If that’s something you can relate to, this album is undoubtedly for you.

 


Ayaz is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur who also happens to dabble in songwriting from time to time. Hit him up at [email protected] if you can tolerate an annoying Bob Dylan fan-boy fawning over fancy words.

 

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