Since before Shakespeare put quill to scroll — or Pat Benatar belted out synth-pop harmonies about torments of the heart — those who practice the art of lyrical expression have aimed to answer a universal question: What is love? Poetic declarations have varied: Love is blind. Love is a battlefield. Love is an overrated four-letter word.
One of the most fiery and honest chroniclers working today is tattooed popster Pink, who uses her personal past to ponder the same enduring question on new album The Truth About Love.
On this, her sixth studio release since getting the party started in 2000, the Grammy winner delivers her signature, punk-rock-infused vocals over 15 tracks that shout, swoon and sparkle around anthemic beats and melodic instrumentals.
Many of the LP's highlights come in the form of grand, girlstrong tracks, such as True Love, Blow Me (One Last Kiss), Slut Like You and How Come You're Not Here. These are chictastic battle cries, the kind of sonic empowerment best enjoyed while singing into a hairbrush.
But having gone through an (almost) divorce and then reconciliation with husband Carey Hart, and having her first child in 2011, the 33-year-old has gone through the sort of life stuff that also inspires sincere moments on The Truth About Love.
On tracks such as Beam Me Up and The Great Escape, Pink's soft-husky range offers a Bette Midler-esque vibe. Lyrics such as "I'm never going to watch you checkin' out of this place / I'm not going to lose you, 'cause the passion and pain / Are going to keep you alive someday" show off an emotional tenderness quite different from her misfit persona.
One of the album's gems, Just Give Me a Reason, blends Pink's vocal power with that fresh softness. The track is a dreamy piano duet featuring Nate Reuss from indie band Fun. Lyrics focus on the insecure overthinking that occurs in the post-honeymoon stage of longterm love — that is, when romances turn into relationships. It's one of the best duets to come along in a while.
Fans won't find anything overly innovative on The Truth About Love. Instead, it depends on classic pop tendencies and Pink's genuine fierceness — a quality that can sometimes come off as obnoxious. Then again, love is sometimes obnoxious.
After 12 years on the scene, the rebellious artist has grown from upstart to royalty, a versatile performer who can rage and reflect. What is love to a woman who proposed to her man on a dirt track at a motocross event? She lays it down on the title track: "It's nasty and salty / It's the regret in the morning, it's the smelling of armpits / It's wings, and songs / And trees, and birds / It's all the poetry that you ever heard."
Amber McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8839.