01 The Music’s No Good Without You (4:43)
02 Alive Again (4:19)
03 Song For The Lonely (4:01)
04 A Different Kind Of Love Song (3:52)
05 Rain, Rain (3:44)
06 Love So High (4:32)
07 Body To Body, Heart To Heart (3:58)
08 Love Is A Lonely Place Without Out (3:53)
09 Real Love (3:55)
10 Love One Another (3:44)
11 You Take It All (4:53)
11 When You Walk Away (4:13)*
12 When The Money’s Gone (4:40)
13 The Look (4:24)*
Almost four decades into her singing career, Cher released her 24th studio album „Living Proof“ in November 2001. Following the album „Not.com.mercial“ which was released digitally only, this proved to be her first physical studio effort after her comeback album „Believe“. The latter became a huge global success, both critically and commercially, and spawned hits that made heavy use of autotune („Believe“, „All Or Nothing“). The singer returned in the new millennium as a fair-haired (as you can see on the sleeve cover above), so I’m eager to see what this fake blonde woman delivers on „Living Proof“.
You were the centre of attention, the eye of the storm
First track The Music’s No Good Without You starts with an entrancing intro. The ambient music has an ethereal feeling with subtle touches of guitars here and there. In the chorus Cher’s voice is so heavily autotuned that she sound’s like an alien, fitting the lyrics in the first verse („A whirlwind from outer space“). For me this song is one of the best things Cher has done musically, and I can tell you that on this album the first song is also the best. Adding tempo to the mix, Alive Again pours out a positive vibe: Cher puts her low and trembling voice to good use in the verses and in an anthemic chorus („I know I’ll be alive again“). Unfortunately the keyboard effects sound dated but it’s a nice little song nevertheless. Song For The Lonely (which is claimed to be about 9/11) is another piece of dance pop. The music’s okay but cheesy lyrics („This is a song for the lonely / Can you hear me tonight? […] When your dreams won’t come true / Can you hear this prayer that someone’s there for you?“) mar the overall experience a lot. Sadly this track feels pretty calculated due to its lack of subtleness. Another try at autotune, A Different Kind Of Love contains some funky guitars in the background which are drowned out by the keyboards completely. The lyrics are light and uplifting („I am part of you, we have living proof / There is some kind of light that flows through everything“) and give the album its title.
Rain, Rain slows the tempo down a little. This midtempo tune is dominated by an acoustic guitar, being a welcome change from the preceding disco stompers despite little touches of electro-pop. Cher’s strong voice carries the song that holds boring lyrics again („Rain, rain falling down / Crying as it hits the ground“). Following track Love So High keeps the latin-influences from „Rain Rain“, there are some words in Italian language and cheesy lyrics once more („Oh mi amore / I wish that I could fly“). There’s nothing special about this one, and the spanish guitar solo feels out of place somehow. Spanish guitars are reused on Body To Body, Heart To Heart. Combined with a dynamic rhythm section and percussions this makes for a nice piece of latin pop (salsa). While being restrained in the verses, Chers bursts into a lively chorus that you can sing along to at first listen. Carrying a similar feeling to „The Music’s No Good Without You“, Love Is A Lonely Place Without You is driven by a chilly disco beat. It’s as ethereal as the aforementioned song but more upbeat, but follows the same structure as most songs before.
There are glimpses of Kylie Minogue’s later work on Real Love: a simple keyboard riff is set to a straight disco beat. Uninspired lyrics („Real love / I still believe in love“) and autotune are a common trade by now, but a somewhat funky c-part keeps this track from being a failure. Love One Another is better. This sped-up hymn to love („Love one another / Sisters and brothers […] Love one another / Father and mother“) is a lot more enjoyable, and the overall sound isn’t as annoying as on other tracks. A real standout comes with You Take It All. Merging ambient background music with a beat that borrows from trip-hop plus Cher’s voice that isn’t autotuned here is a welcome change from the repetitiveness seen before. Final song When The Money’s Gone is camp all the way. Fast, quirky, and funny: this is an energetic song that doesn’t take itself serious. There’s plenty of irony in Cher’s vocals („Will you still be there / Will you pull me through / When the cash is gone?„), and close to the end Cher keeps repeating herself in such a hilarious way that I can’t help but smile.
Love don’t need a reason – she can pick you up and leave you bleeding
There are several international versions of „Living Proof“. The American version swaps When You Walk Away with „You Take It All“. Another song about a break-up („I refuse to give you the right to cause these eyes to cry at night“), this little piece of disco pop is energetic and empowering („When you walk away / You won’t walk away with my heart“). The Japanese bonus track is called The Look: it’s not a cover of Roxette’s song of the same name, but provides elements of latin pop / rumba (guitars, percussions and horns). A neat additional track. „Living Proof“ picks up where „Believe“ left: there’s much autotune here, many of the tracks are uptempo while other tunes are influenced by latin pop. This album suffers from the greatness that is „The Music’s No Good Without You“ – there are no other tracks as good as it here. A few others are decent and fun to listen to, but the bulk of songs found here are generic dance pop tunes that could be sung by any other singer/entertainer, male or female. As my verdict proves:
2.5 out of 5