Pink is one ballsy in-your-face rock chick with enough sass and attitude to fuel several small cities.
But she’s also warm, earthy, sweet, sentimental and unflinchingly honest in a way that few artists of her calibre are.
And it’s the fusion of all those qualities that make her one of the greatest pop artists of our time.
That’s not just the fan boy in me talking. Yes, I have seen here in concert multiple times – no doubt helping her on her way to a record 58 shows on her Funhouse tour through Australia in 2009 – and I have listened again and again to her albums and revelled in her devil-may-care attitude to life. But she is more than just what is channeled into her energetic heart-on-sleeve live shows and her superbly engaging albums.
She is great primarily because she figured out a long time ago that the only way to really live her life properly was to be herself. Truly unapologetically herself. But not in some a-hole flipping-the-bird kind of way which is how many people would interpret that kind of rootsy authenticity. Just herself, warts-and-all and let the chips, and peoples’ opinions whatever they may be, fall where they may.
And it’s that refreshing blisteringly-honest attitude, infused with genuine emotional warmth, so rare even among artists who purport to tell it like it is, that is woven into the DNA of her new album The Truth About Love, much of which she had a hand in writing.
From the first notes of opening number, “Are We All We Are?” with its insistent drum beats, electronic swirls and flourishes, anthemic vocals and its strident guitar riffs, she declares with inspiring confidence that “we are the people you will never get the best of” to the heartfelt tones of “Try” and “Just Give Me a Reason” , everything that defines Pink as a person and as an artist is on display.
And it’s “Try”, just two songs in that confirms why Pink has the devoted following that she does. It’s the sort of song that could so easily have slid into trite Hallmark positive thinking territory, replete as it is with repeated encouragement to “get up and try and try and try”, but there is a raw truthfulness and honesty to the way Pink performs this song that lends it a grounding in the school of real life, and an authenticity it might otherwise lack.
The same goes for “True Love” and “The Truth About Love” where, once again, over winningly dense beats, and in the case of the latter song an almost giddy chorus of backing vocalists, she doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat life and the realities of love and both the hurt and joy it can cause.
She is frank and brutal at times about aspects of her relationship with husband Carey Hart but anchors it all in the fact that they love each other and that’s just the way love goes. It isn’t always a romantic walk across the Pont Neuf in Paris, or sweet kisses in softly falling snow; sometimes it’s just plain ugly and difficult – “sometimes I want to slap you” – but that’s true love. It’s a messy tangle of contradictions that Pink seems to have made peace with, and that’s reflected in the bouncy romp that “True Love” ends up becoming by its final piano-driven notes.
But just in case you think Pink has forgotten that not everyone has found, or even wants to find true love, whatever form it takes, along comes the brash “woohoos” of “Slut Like You” that celebrates, with head held high over a strident pounding rock beat, with more bounce than a kids blow up castle, the joys of throwing yourself into the sack and not regretting a moment of it. It is one of the most contagious tracks on the album – it’s the first one that had me hitting the repeat button, well, repeatedly – and should go down a treat when she launches into her tour sometime next year.
Another track that should have much the same effect on the concertgoers is “Walk of Shame”, an upbeat tune that looks at the morning after of the night before of “Slut Like You”. It sounds sassy and defiant but reflects more of the sobering (and panicked) realisation that last night’s abandonment to the senses may not look like such a good idea in the harsh light of day. It is candid, and doesn’t shy from the panic of realising that what was hidden in the darkness of a nightclub is now on show for every one to see.
It is emblamatic of all the tracks on the album in so far as it tells it like it is and doesn’t shy away from the fact that all of us make good decisions, and some very poor ones and that’s just life. We’re not perfect, and even though Pink doesn’t shy away from dealing with the sometimes painful consequences of the poor choices we make head on, in the end it is simply treated as a part of life and not the end of life as we know it.
There are no judgements made, which makes the album a joy for anyone who has escaped the prison of other peoples’ opinions and simply wants to embrace life as a warts and all carnival of ups and downs, with a few totally warranted expletives to punctuate the ebbs and flows.
And if you’re going to live life in such a free spirited it-is-what-it-is fashion, then I can think of no better rockin’ soundtrack that “The Truth About Love” which, regardless of whether it’s foot-stompingly loud and in your face, or totally vulnerable and heartbreakingly honest, never misses a beat and always, always, wears its heart very firmly and winningly on its sleeve, much like the formidably talented artist that crafted it.