Carly Rae Jepsen has always been a hopeless romantic in her music, but — in several interviews during the lead-up to Dedicated, her fourth album — she has described herself as “hopeful” in place of “hopeless.” Examining her immaculate discography, it’s a warranted correction; throughout the singer’s career, her songs have always had a shade of joy or innocence that more by-the-numbers love songs lacked, even when she’s detailing broken relationships. The title of the record itself is another indication of her resilience in love, a declaration to put in the effort to best understanding the dynamics between her and her partner. It is this dedication to critical thinking that allows Jepsen to create the universal anthems scattered across these fifteen tracks.
Originally conceptualized as and titled Music to Clean Your House To, it’s clear the singer is in a much more mellow place in her life on Dedicated. Despite the disco influence that crops up throughout the record, it often lacks the bombastic production that propelled 2015’s E•MO•TION. Leaving the distinctly eighties power-pop sound in the past, Jepsen is able to reach soaring heights in new ways; either by employing a breathier vocal on songs (“No Drug Like Me,” “Too Much,” “Real Love”) or accessing her sensuality in new lyrical territory (“Want You in My Room,” “Everything He Needs”), the singer conjures up a more mature image that aligns better with her age.
Even when tracks falls back on the explosiveness of her past hits, she manages to breathe fresh life into the formula. “Now That I Found You” feels like a sequel to standalone single “Cut to the Feeling,” but with lyrics that reveal a person that perhaps doesn’t jump into love as quickly as the one from 2017; she plays the obsessive ex-girlfriend on the Fatal Attraction-lite “I’ll Be Your Girl;” and she’s “Happy Not Knowing” if there’s any potential romance between her and her latest crush. The lovesick Jepsen’s presence is still felt on the record, but she’s learned a thing or two about adult love in her time — most exemplified on lead single and final track “Party for One.” Written in the midst of a breakup, it’s a celebratory reinterpretation of the age-old adage “alone but not lonely;” as Jepsen basks in getting “back on [her] beat,” Dedicated transforms from an ode to a partner into a love letter to the self.
Standout tracks: “No Drug Like Me,” “Want You in My Room,” “Real Love,” “Party for One”