BOTTOM LINE Cyrus embraces her country roots and blossoms as a singer-songwriter.
Miley Cyrus says she named her new album “Younger Now” (RCA) because she feels more youthful at 24 than she did as a boundary-pushing teen.
But make no mistake. The songs on this album are far more mature than anything else she has ever done — even more than the 2013 blockbuster album “Bangerz,” which she assembled with teams of producers and songwriters.
“Younger Now” is pure Miley and she expresses herself well. “I’ll start feeling mad, but then I feel inspired,” she sings on the delightfully simple ballad “Inspired,” which she wrote for Hillary Clinton. “We are meant for more. Pull the handle on the door that opens up to change, I know it sounds so strange.”
Maybe Cyrus learned from her godmother Dolly Parton, who appears here on the sweet “Rainbowland” using her powers to charm as a singer doing lovely harmonies, as well as in a voicemail talking about her recording process and lack of tech savvy, as well as teasing Cyrus about boys.
Are there more elegant ways to express some of these emotions? Sure. But it all sounds like her. It sounds real. The ache of “Miss You So Much” sounds more believable than so much of what is on country radio today, as she worries about loss over layers of echoing guitars. “A Week Without You” manages to sound like classic country, which she shakes up with her swearing and timely imagery.
And on the album’s title track, Cyrus seems to carve out a niche — part-rock, part-pop, the edge provided by her raspy voice and unexpected harmonies — that she has all to herself for as long as she wants it, which, given her track record, may not be that long. “No one stays the same,” Cyrus sings in the memorable chorus. “Change is a thing you can count on.”