Friday night, Demi Lovato released “Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over,” her seventh studio album, and her first album since 2017’s “Tell Me You Love Me.”
Lovato is currently working on a docuseries about her recent struggles with addiction and mental illness on YouTube titled “Dancing With The Devil.” The first three episodes of this series have been released over the past two weeks, and the last episode will be released on Tuesday.
Like Lovato’s docuseries, this nineteen-song album focuses on her time since her 2018 overdose, which almost killed her. Following hospitalizations and serious health concerns, Lovato spent time out of the public eye but has now returned to open the conversation around addiction and mental health.
One of the album’s title songs, “Dancing With The Devil,” details the night of this overdose. The music video that Lovato released to accompany it is powerful. It is full of raw emotion and depicts a part of her life that is deeply personal. Clearly, Lovato sees drugs in her life as the devil, and this is a motif that we see in her docuseries, in the album and in this song specifically.
The first song on the album, “Anyone” was released last year, and Lovato performed it at the 2020 Grammy awards. This was an emotional and difficult performance for Lovato, and was her first public performance since her departure. Like “Dancing With The Devil,” it’s an honest song, a poetic depiction of frustration, grief and guilt.
One song that stands out on this album is “The Way You Don’t Look At Me.” It’s a guitar-heavy, acoustic-pop song, different from the piano that accompanies much of her other songs. Rather than focusing on overdose, this song talks about heartbreak, and how it can actually hurt more. Still, this song touches on disordered eating and body image issues, real struggles that Lovato has discussed before.
The album features four songs with collaborators, including Ariana Grande, Sam Fischer, Noah Cyrus and Saweetie. “What Other People Say,” with Sam Fischer, was released as a single last year. Of these, the strongest is “Easy,” with Noah Cyrus.
“Easy” is a song about breakups and intense emotions, similar to “The Way You Don’t Look At Me” and “Carefully.” Cyrus and Lovato’s voices melt together against the piano of the track, Cyrus’s softer voice the perfect complement to Lovato’s deeper register.
Lovato celebrates confidence on this album, too. “Lonely People” is a song about self-confidence and being okay with being single. “15 Minutes” looks at leaving negative people behind and moving forward with positivity.
“Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over” ends with “Good Place,” an acoustic song about her future. After a lot of hard work, she’s in a good place, where she feels she’ll be for a while.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this album exhibits a rare sense of both strength and emotional vulnerability. It’s difficult for anyone to be open and honest about their struggles, but especially those in the spotlight, like Lovato. Still, she does it anyways.
“Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over” is an album in which we get to know Demi Lovato as a person, and we celebrate her in both her strengths and in her struggles. It’s a triumph, and we can only stand and clap as we see Demi in this new chapter of her life and her music.