The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

A revival for Kanye West on divorce album ‘Donda’

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“Donda” by Kanye West (Def Jam/UMG)

Kanye West donned a full face mask to host three livestream­ed listening parties for his 10th studio album. Beyond that, he didn’t say a word, or even tweet. After years of alienating longtime fans with forays into conservati­ve politics and sometimes exhausting media spectacle, pop’s King of All Controvers­y mostly let the

music speak for him when unveiling “Donda.”

In the tradition of Marvin Gaye’s “Here, My Dear” or Phil Collins’ “Face Value,” it’s a prickly, personal divorce album full of introspect­ion, conflictin­g emotions and bursts of musical innovation. It’s also a nearly-overbooked showcase for of-themoment talent, some half West’s age: Shenseea, Fivio Foreign, Baby Keem, The Weeknd, Lil Yachty, Roddy Ricch. There’s drill music alongside church organs — so many organs!

There’s New Kanye earnest praise of God — “he’s done miracles on me” — mingling with Old Kanye jokey self-awareness: “I’ll be honest, we all liars,” “I repent for everything that I’mma do again.” There’s reggae legend Buju Banton, rap legends Jay-Z, The Lox and Jay Electronic­a, multiple jabs at longtime foil Drake. Its 27 tracks clock in at one hour, 49 minutes.

It turns out it may not be a divorce album after all: At the final listening party in Chicago, West appeared to set himself on fire then reconcile with his estranged wife, who wore a veiled wedding dress. OK, so maybe he’s not quite done with the media spectacle thing.

It’s a lot to take in. But West somehow wrangles a surprising­ly cohesive collection, his best album since 2010’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” There’s a vague narrative arc, from sinning to salvation, that’s reflected in dark sonic beauty.

Still, “Donda” represents a revival, in every sense of the word, for one of pop’s most singular talents.

 ?? Evan Agostini / Associated Press ?? Kanye West’s latest release is “Donda,” named after Donda West, the singer's late mother.
Evan Agostini / Associated Press Kanye West’s latest release is “Donda,” named after Donda West, the singer's late mother.

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