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Lizzo - Special (Album Review)

Thursday, 21 July 2022 Written by Laura Johnson

Photo: AB+DM

Body positivity and self-love are not new concepts, particularly in Lizzo’s camp, but the Detroit-born artist’s ability to deliver messages in support of them, while embracing complex lyrical and musical tropes, is impressive. The fact that she keeps it all feeling fresh is even more so.

With Lizzo’s infectious positivity well-documented and recent chart domination hard to miss, it’s impossible to delve into ‘Special’ without a number of preconceived notions—one being that relentlessly happy songs can quickly lose their charm if they offer little beyond superficial appeal. That is not an issue here.

Opener The Sign fills us in on what the singer’s been up to in the three years since the release of its Grammy-winning predecessor ‘Cuz I Love You’—training, twerking and making smoothies. From then on, the record is a masterclass in tone and pacing, traversing emotional peaks and troughs throughout its clipped 35-minute run time.

Initially, 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) gives ‘80s pop power-anthem, but lyrically it delves into Lizzo’s insecurities about being in a relationship, while I Love You Bitch is a love letter to her friends and herself, complete with the vocalist’s trademark humour: “Gimme your hoodie when I'm cold, bless your heart, it's too small.”

Break Up Twice sees a shift to a neo-soul sound led by electric guitars, with a writing credit going to Ms. Lauryn Hill thanks to its chorus’s interpolation of the Doo Wop (That Thing) line “Boy, you know you better watch out” and a riff on the song’s descending horn line. Naked is another soulful moment that finds Lizzo seductive and confident in her own skin.

The same conviction is present on penultimate track If You Love Me, which switches things up with pared-back yet intricately constructed instrumentation, recalling the girl groups of the ‘60s. Everybody’s Gay features another change in direction, this time to a disco epic that celebrates the LGBTQIA+ scene with intentional cliches—read: “express yourself”—and a nod to the importance of a supportive community: “It’s a happy place, baby, in here you’re safe.”

Lizzo pulled out all the stops to make ‘Special’ just that, with the record boasting co-production and co-writes with Max Martin, Mark Ronson, Blake Slatkin, Ian Kirkpatrick, Pop Wansel, and Kid Harpoon, among others. But it’s her personality, vision and aspirational blend of insecurity and confidence that form the rock solid foundations upon which everything else is built.

Lizzo Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri September 23 2022 - FORT LAUDERDALE Florida - FLA Live Arena (USA)
Sat September 24 2022 - TAMPA Florida - Amalie Arena (USA)
Tue September 27 2022 - WASHINGTON District Of Columbia - Capital One Arena (USA)
Thu September 29 2022 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Wells Fargo Center (USA)
Fri September 30 2022 - BOSTON Massachusetts - TD Garden (USA)
Sun October 02 2022 - NEW YORK New York - Madison Square Garden (USA)
Mon October 03 2022 - NEW YORK New York - Madison Square Garden (USA)
Thu October 06 2022 - DETROIT Michigan - Little Caesars Arena (USA)
Fri October 07 2022 - TORONTO Ontario - Scotiabank Arena (Canada)
Tue October 11 2022 - SAINT PAUL Minnesota - Xcel Energy Center (USA)
Fri October 14 2022 - KANSAS CITY Missouri - T-Mobile Center (USA)
Sun October 16 2022 - CHICAGO Illinois - United Center (USA)
Tue October 18 2022 - INDIANAPOLIS Indiana - Gainbridge Fieldhouse (USA)
Thu October 20 2022 - CHARLOTTE North Carolina - Spectrum Center (USA)
Sat October 22 2022 - ATLANTA Georgia - State Farm Arena (USA)
Sun October 23 2022 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Bridgestone Arena (USA)
Tue October 25 2022 - AUSTIN Texas - Moody Center ATX (USA)
Wed October 26 2022 - HOUSTON Texas - Toyota Center - TX (USA)
Fri October 28 2022 - DALLAS - American Airlines Center - TX (USA)
Mon October 31 2022 - DENVER Colorado - Ball Arena (USA)
Wed November 02 2022 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Vivint Smart Home Arena (USA)
Fri November 04 2022 - PORTLAND Oregon - Moda Center (USA)
Mon November 07 2022 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Rogers Arena (Canada)
Wed November 09 2022 - SEATTLE Washington - Climate Pledge Arena (USA)
Thu November 10 2022 - PORTLAND Oregon - Moda Center (USA)
Sat November 12 2022 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Chase Center (USA)
Fri November 18 2022 - LOS ANGELES California - Kia Forum (USA)
Sat November 19 2022 - LOS ANGELES California - Kia Forum (USA)

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