The transition of an artist from one style to another (both genre and identity) has been well documented in recent years. Take the examples of Katy Perry who began her career as a Christian musician before crossing over to mainstream pop with her hit album ‘One of the Boys’. Other examples include Snoop Dogg who built an illustrious career through hip hop, slowly making his transition into reggae as well as Miley Cyrus’ transition from a young teen sensation (anybody remember Hannah Montana?) to a country girl, and eventually announcing herself as a pop phenomenon and a force to be reckoned with.
A more subtle transition was that of Gwen Stefani. With a music career spanning more than a decade, Gwen’s musical genius can be traced back to her days with No Doubt. With hits such as “Hey Baby” and “Underneath it all”, there’s no doubt (pun intended) that the band brought a fresh sound to radio airwaves. As the lead-singer, Gwen Stefani was synonymous with edgy, young, rebellious punk girl until she went solo in 2004 to team up with Pharrell Williams, releasing her debut album ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby‘. Tracks such as “Hollaback Girl”, inspired by 80s hip hop showed the versatility in Gwen’s sound and persona.
With a recent break-up, a 10 year absence, and a third studio album set to be released, it seems as if Gwen has found some inspiration to draw upon. After listening to her new solo album titled ‘This Is What The Truth Feels Like‘, there are shades of vintage Gwen Stefani particularly on tracks such as “Rare” (which is literally a rare gem on the album) that remind me of what she’s capable of doing. This song in particular reminds me of smash hits such as “Cool” with clean guitar strings as she sings: “ You’re rare, and I’m loving every second of it”. Whether it will reach the success of “Cool” is yet to be seen.
On the whole, the album seems as if Gwen Stefani doesn’t know which audience she wants to transition into, and sometimes feels as if she recollected her old material to try and conjure up something. Will the name “Gwen Stefani” be on everyone’s lips again? Time will tell.
Contributor: Sifiso Dhladhla