It is hard to make a great album, but it’s even harder to make a great concept album. With “Dancing with the Devil…the Art of Starting Over,” pop superstar, Demi Lovato, has done both.
Lovato’s album, which came out on April 2, tells the story of her 2018 drug overdose, her growth journey over the past two years and her new chance at life. The album was released alongside a multi-part YouTube documentary entitled “Dancing with the Devil.” The docuseries showed all of the events that led up to Lovato’s overdose and all of the factors at play, from her recovery in the hospital with firsthand accounts from her doctors, to how it impacted Demi’s family and friends. Listeners cannot fully appreciate the album in all of its brilliant entirety without first watching the documentary and understanding the gravity of the situations Lovato is singing about.
“Dancing with the Devil…the Art of Starting Over” is a chronological concept album. Even with many of its darker-themed tracks, this record is unequivocally the perfect “L.A. album.” The CD features some R&B elements that Lovato first started playing around with on her 2017 album “Tell Me You Love Me.” The one aspect everyone will walk away with after listening to this record is the reminder that Demi Lovato is one of, if not the greatest, vocalists of this generation.
Each song plays its own role depicting a different part of Demi Lovato’s harrowing troubles and tribulations in her life. The first three tracks, “Anyone,” “Dancing with the Devil” and “ICU (Madison’s Lullabye),” represent the weeks leading up to her overdose and her time in the hospital. The first track, “Anyone,” was performed at the 2020 Grammy Awards. This performance was her first return to the stage since her overdose in 2018. The song is a sorrowful, sad piano ballad that talks deeply about her emotions. The second and title track, “Dancing with the Devil,” is one of the most standout songs on the record. This larger-than-life song perfectly encapsulates Lovato’s mindset during her relapse with drugs and alcohol. She sings in the chorus, “Playing with the enemy/Gambling with my soul/It’s so hard to say no/When you’re dancing with the devil.”
The album also delves into Lovato’s love life, including how her lifelong struggle with eating disorders has severely impacted all of them. On the acoustic guitar-filled “The Way You Don’t Look At Me,” she sings about the pain that comes with feeling unseen and unloved in relationships due to her body image. In “Carefully” and “The Kind of Lover I Am,” she talks about what she needs out of love and her personal revelations regarding her sexuality. Lovato only briefly sings about her five-month whirlwind relationship and engagement this past year in “15 Minutes.” In this song, she explains how her relationship was built on the two of them not really knowing each other and how her fiance was only looking for his “fifteen minutes of fame.”
The pinnacle part of this album is when you finally see Demi Lovato in her life, where she is happy and healthy. Even through some of the dark themes, she finds a way to make the listener understand where she’s coming from and where she is now. “The Art of Starting Over” is where she realizes the chance she’s been given back in her life, and “Lonely People” is where she sings to her newfound freedom and the joys that can come with being on your own. But the album’s finale, “Good Place,” is where she acknowledges the tribulations she’s had to go through throughout her life, and that now is the first time she feels like she is in a good place.
The album is a message of hope and self-awareness and embodies a beacon of light to anyone struggling. I highly recommend this album to any music lovers who enjoy an album deep-rooted into the hard truths and difficulties of life.