Artist: Ariana Grande
Album: Dangerous Woman
Label: Republic Records
Let me start this review by stating an extremely obvious fact: Ariana Grande has a damn good voice. It’s the kind of voice that comes along infrequently, the kind that makes you want to stand in your shower and belt as hard as you can into your shampoo bottle, and the kind that makes it feel like Grande’s debut album, 2013’s Yours Truly, has been around much longer than it has. It’s the special kind of talent that makes people stop in their tracks and pay attention, even amidst weird donut-licking and Nickelodeon show cancellation tabloid stories. It’s a voice that grew from Yours Truly to 2014’s My Everything, and Grande’s latest release, Dangerous Woman, shows once again that Ariana Grande can sing.
And sing Ariana Grande does. It might be easy for a lesser pop star to get lost in a production super-team that includes the likes of Max Martin and Ilya Salmanzadeh, but Grande is no normal pop star. Wether on the traditional pop sensibilities of “Be Alright,” the slow groovy chorus of “Dangerous Woman,” or the bluesy duet “Leave Me Lonely” with Macy Gray (Macy Gray!!!!), Grande puts the perfect amount of emotion and power into her voice. “So when you walk out that door / don’t you come back no more” Grande sings on the buildup to the “Leave Me Lonely” chorus, and you can feel the passion flow out of your speakers.
It’s truly amazing how easily Grande transfers between styles. The album starts with “Moonlight,” a blast from the past that wouldn’t feel out of place in 1955’s Rebel Without A Cause. From there, Dangerous Woman takes us on a stylistic roller coaster. We have the reggae-infused “Side to Side” with a predictably great Nicki Minaj verse (with an A+ Steph Curry reference as the Golden State star lays waste to the rest of the league in the NBA Playoffs), the acoustic guitar-laced “Sometimes,” and the funky banger that is “Greedy.” All that being said, a downside of this varied production is that Dangerous Woman never seems to totally coalesce into a cohesive experience, instead existing as a collection of songs that only loosely fit together, even if almost all of those individual songs are fantastic.
As a whole, Dangerous Woman is an excellent showcase for Ariana Grande’s range and vocal abilities, which are both on an otherworldly level. It seems that there’s no style or note Grande isn’t comfortable with, and the end result is a album that you’ll be singing in the shower for months to come.