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Former Disney starlet Selena Gomez is beloved for everything she is, and everything she’s not. So much so, that her diehard fans dubbed the release of her latest solo album in over four years #Rareday. Short for the project’s official title, Rare. Battling everything from lupus, a kidney transplant, anxiety and depression throughout her hiatus, it is these past struggles that solidify Gomez’s fitting effort as the comeback kid. Garnering overall rave reviews, some are going as far as to calling it her best work to date, and most notably the most complete album of her decorated career thus far.
The album’s first single “Lose You To Love Me” is a commercial friendly love ballad, but breathes sentiment that more than sets up the album’s undertone from the very start. Striking a piercing balance of confidence and vulnerability on the track, Gomez proceeds to do just that throughout the thirteen-track LP. For example, she dives in headfirst on the self-reflective “Vulnerable”, which is by far the deepest and most intimate song on the album. As she belts: “If I was the greatest thing to happen to ya would you know it? // If my love was like a flower, would you plant it would you grow it? // Ima give you all my body are you strong enough to hold it? // I would tell you all my secrets, wrap your arms around my weakness, if the only other options letting go // I’ll stay vulnerable.” With that said, you can tell by the energy Gomez has exuded in recent interviews and publicly in the few past weeks, that it is most notably the most important and personal one in her almost decade long tenure.
This comes into fruition even more on the album’s expressive title track “Rare”, as she celebrates her own uniqueness, projecting a humble but self-deserving “I deserve it all because I’m a gem,” type of attitude that leaves you wanting more. She then continues on the silly and suggestive nature of “Fun”, which will be every girl’s guilty pleasure as she talks about a guy she shouldn’t like, but can’t help being attracted to (yes, you know we’ve all had at least one of them!). On that note, the ambience of “Dance Again” will be another standout favorite. Carefree and boldly, she professes her readiness for love again singing: “Happiness ain’t something you sit back and wait for. // With my emotions undressed I’m goin in, with everything. // Feels so good, so good to dance again.”
She moves along fluidly on the vindication pop medley “Look At Her Now” which is an apparent ode to former ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber. As Gomez continues to remind you why it’s hard not to root for her. She gets animated on the cool catchy sounds of “Ring” purposefully laced with a slight bit of cockiness. However, the jewel of the album comes on the spirited “Sweeter Place” featuring Ohio rapper Kid Cudi. It is by far the best lyrically as she croons the smooth lines: “Is there a place I can hide away? // Red lips, french kiss my worries all away. // There must be a sweeter place, we can sugar coat the taste.” Cudi provides a fabulous flowing verse to accompany Gomez’s sweet falsettos.
Although there are no real lackluster songs throughout the LP, the New Me theme does start to get a bit redundant on tracks like “People you know.” “Let Me Get Me” follows the same rhetoric but is saved by a particularly stunning makeup-free official video shot in all black and white, composed of the pop star in her most visibly natural state. Which is an outstanding depiction of Gomez’s highly relatable personal journey. Which is the essence of this album. You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eG_0NYPAZQ
Finally, Rare is a blessed combination of one’s blood, sweat, and tears as they say. It’s personal progress, not perfection. It is a sunken place transpiring into salvation. Beating the lows to get to the highs. It is turning fear into fortitude. But most of all, it is one’s redemption meeting reward, and we are completely here for it.