By Hayden Wright
After more than a decade in the spotlight, Miley Cyrus has every reason to feel older now. After all, growing up famous made her a leading lady, Billboard chart topper and international star before most people graduate high school or get their drivers’ licenses. On her new album Younger Now, she turns that wisdom on its head. Miley embraces the inevitability of change and finds her center in bittersweet vibes, folksy melodies and evocative arrangements. She goes back to basics.
“I feel like I have nothing to prove,” the singer recently told NME. “I think little parts of everyone that I’ve been in my life are starting to come through in this one kind of era of the music that I’m doing, because I really can embrace what I’ve been before rather than trying to distance myself from it.”
Miley intrigued fans with her lead single “Malibu,” a departure from the psychedelic and hip-hop oriented material she explored on Bangerz and Miley Cyrus & Her Ded Petz. Younger Now delivers on the promise of uncluttered soundscapes and lyrical authenticity. Miley is credited as the sole writer on seven of the 11 tracks (and co-wrote the other four) so this album repositions her as a singer-songwriter in full control of her voice, message and sound.
Here are the five best songs on Miley Cyrus’ Younger Now:
Miley’s country roots are on full display on Younger Now and the title track sounds like a lost Dixie Chicks record, in the best way possible. The artist explores the consequences of going against the grain and how growth comes from trial and error.
The curveball that got the world interested in Younger Now: Who is this new Miley? The singer muses about warm, blue-skied days in Southern California with her love, with an arrangement that propels the laid-back song forward with surprising intensity.
“Rainbowland” featuring Dolly Parton
Miley recruited her godmother, the legendary Dolly Parton, to support her on this honky-tonk country track. The song opens with a voicemail from Dolly and launches into a dewy fantasy about Rainbowland, a “paradise” where people are free to be exactly who they are. It’s a brilliant showcase for how similar Dolly and Miley’s personas really are.
“Love Someone” (Explicit)
Miley’s on-again-off-again relationship with actor Liam Hemsworth has made headlines for years: On “Love Someone,” Miley lifts the veil on a hot and cold relationship that both partners struggle to make work. Her vocals take on a gravely Johnny Cash sound on the verses, presenting her romantic ups and downs as a cautionary tale. Warning. “Love Someone” contains explicit lyrics.
“Inspired” was written with Hillary Clinton in mind after America elected Donald Trump. Miley references the changing climate and finds inspiration in dark times, while a mournful fiddle drives the elegant melody.