By Sara Nigro
On April 2, 2021, Demi Lovato released her latest studio album titled, “Dancing With The Devil … The Art Of Starting Over.” In this new era of music, Lovato approaches the project with full authenticity and honesty to her personal journey over the past few years. Many of the 19 tracks featured on the album are centered around her growth as a person since her overdose in July 2018. Using her powerful vocal and hard hitting lyrics, Lovato portrays her story and herself in a brand new light.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “ICU (Madison’s Lullaby),” which is dedicated to her younger sister Madison De La Garza. The story of the song is what makes the track truly beautiful to me. After her near fatal overdose in 2018, De La Garza greeted her sister who wasn’t able to see when she first woke up in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) due to temporary blindness. The title of the song has a double meaning, the first being to represent the Intensive Care Unit and the other meaning “I see you” as Lovato promises to be there for her sister from now on.
Some lyrics that stood out to me during my first listening were the ones that made me feel her vulnerability and understand her personal revelations. For example, in “Dancing With The Devil” she sings, “playing with the enemy / gambling with my soul” as a reference to her struggles with addiction.
In “The Art Of Starting Over,” a song that represents the beginning of her healing process, Lovato sings, “thank God I’ve got me to hold me.” This lyric is so empowering to herself as a person and demonstrates her growth through relationships, which is a common theme throughout this project.
Lyrically, I think that the most impressive song is “California Sober” in which she sings, “I'm California sober / It doesn't have to mean the growin' part is over / No, it ain't black or white, it's all of the colors.” Instead of saying that since everything isn’t black and white, it’s gray, she says — “it’s all the colors” — which I think takes on a unique more comforting meaning to an old saying. It perfectly sums up the true process of learning and growing and how the progress is never truly over; it’s not as simple as it seems.
The album also includes a few features by artists such as Ariana Grande, Saweetie, Sam Smith, Marshmello, Noah Cyrus and Sam Fischer. My favorite featured songs were with Ariana Grande called “Met Him Last Night” and Noah Cyrus called “Easy.” In “Met Him Last Night,” Lovato and Grande tell a story about meeting someone who you know is bad for you, but you are captivated by them nonetheless. The pop stars sing, “I think I love him, though I know it ain't right,” contemplating the struggles of a conflicting relationship.
“Easy” explores a different topic: the struggles of making the most difficult situations look easy to those watching for your downfall. Cyrus and Lovato’s voices mesh well together and sound beautiful when they sing the chorus, “From showing you how hard it is for me / To make it look so easy”.
Lovato addresses her past struggles with addiction, an eating disorder, and relationship difficulties in a way that exemplifies her progress as an individual, and the lessons she’s learned throughout the past couple years. Using her musical talents, she does a beautiful job of sharing her story and expressing her honesty. “Dancing With the Devil … The Art Of Starting Over” might be Lovato’s best work to date.