Olivia Newton-John

Gaia

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Dabbling in clear-cut pop, country, sensuous ballads, and island rhythms, Olivia Newton John's "Gaia" (meaning 'Mother Earth') is a bright stepping stone for the singer's long and winding career. Let alone the quality of the songs, what Newton-John has created is a sincere call for peace in the world. Following the loss of her daughter's best friend due to cancer, discovering her own breast cancer on the same day of her father's death, toward the end of her marriage, and without a record contract, Newton-John nearly departed from the music industry. The decline of many singers' careers begins when the music is derived from desperation (e.g., the need for continued hits) instead of inspiration. Gaia is an album that yanks out the desperation in life and transforms it into inspiration. Its production costs were taken out of Newton-John's own wallet and features all of her own writing for the first time. The first song "Trust Yourself" sets the tone for what follows with the message "I need to speak my mind/I can't lie anymore/I need to tell the truth/I know that's what my life is for." Many of Newton-John's truths are her concerns for the environment and humanity. The song "Don't Cut Me Down," which mourns the deforestation of old-world forests, played as a double entendre for AIDS in the film It's My Party, in which Newton-John also starred. What skeptical listeners will interpret as new age drivel is also the most honest and inviting album of her career. She has musically had better albums, better songs to be sure, but Gaia brings us closer to the singer herself than anything from the past. These songs that intentionally lack lyrical subtlety deal with love, disease, religiosity, wildlife, children and marriage, pain, and suffering, and at the core is the artist's belief that there is healing.

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