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Smooth Bananas: ‘The Art of Starting Over’

Demi Lovato has had something of a rocky career (like many artists who got their start in Disney) but she’s back with a vengeance with her latest album. 

The album, produced by a variety of collaborators including Mitch Allan, Lauren Aquilla, Oak Felder, and Matthew Koma, and released by label Island, is the American pop singer’s seventh studio album. The album runs for approximately 57 minutes and features 19 tracks of similar lengths as well as a handful of extra songs from various promotional releases of the album. 

Lovato, as mentioned, got her start in 2008’s “Camp Rock” by Disney and in a slightly uncomfortable interview on the red carpet, she was somewhat shamed by an interviewer when she mentions offhandedly that she’s had struggles even at 16. The interviewer in turn offhandedly jokes about some measure of heartbreak and Lovato being a little naïve about the nature of these interviews, she says that she has had struggles. It’s a particularly pointed moment that almost feels like a call for help.  

Lovato has since faced multiple fights with drug abuse, anorexia, and public shame typical of celebrities who grow up in the spotlight with Disney. We’ve seen it multiple times over. Young people who get the beginnings in Disney movies or Disney Channel TV shows come into adulthood in particularly extreme ways because as children they were not allowed to feel their feelings in a way healthy for their development. Lovato had to perform under extreme media pressure. She recently reported that she had been sexually assaulted at the age of 15 while she was working with Disney and that the assaulter continued to work alongside her on various projects. 

The album delves into her personal struggles, namely her desire to be free of all her demons. The album is Lovato’s way of declaring that she’s done running from her demons but instead she is going to live with them and control them. This is an incredibly healthy response for someone with obvious trauma. She’s able to take back her power from all those demons and put them in their place. 

Lovato opens with a set of three somber songs and then expands the album’s scope from her past to her present. She begins to shed a lot of skin. She talks about rewritten endings, and even references reaching Heaven, either metaphorically or literally. This album is quite removed from Lovato’s other albums. This album dabbles in a variety of musical influences. She even includes a musically haunting cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.”  

The album covers a lot of ground in its hourlong runtime, going through years and years of trauma. It’s an album about redefining who Demi Lovato is and why we should all listen to it. “The Art of Starting Over” receives a B-plus rating. 

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