She might still be only 24, but Miley Cyrus’s career has already come full circle. The child of country royalty – her father is Billy Ray Cyrus of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ fame, her godmother Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings showed her how to play guitar – she broke out over a decade ago as tween idol Hannah Montana. After becoming a global sensation she began releasing records under her own name, pivoting from straight-up pop to naked wrecking-ball swinging and experimental psychedelic weed rock faster than it took Taylor Swift to start morphing into Lorde. But now Miley has put the bong back on the shelf, slipped her cowboy boots back on and returned to her Tennessee roots.
From the exceptional cover art – which sees her quiffed, rhinestoned and leathered up like the love child of Elvis and Lady Gaga – to the tight 11 tracks inside, this is a glossy mainstream version of the Nashville sound that has more in common with Shania Twain than the new school of cool country, like Third Man Records signing Margo Price. Miley’s version of country music, however, retains the edge she’s spent the past five years cultivating; the jaunty ‘Rainbowland’ – which features backing vocals from Dolly – hints at her LGBTQ activism, while the delicate, fiddle-laced ‘Inspired’ – which was debuted at the One Love Manchester benefit concert – was written with Hillary Clinton, for whom Miley vocally campaigned last year, in mind.
This is by no means a political album, however – more the sound of a young woman having fun with her history. The title track is a meditative justification of her multiple personalities (“Change is a thing you can count on”), ‘Malibu’ an EDM Mumford & Sons, ‘I Would Die For You’ a soppy No-Doubt-by-way-of-Dixie-Chicks ballad, and ‘Love Someone’ lets her inner darkness show. Who knows which Miley Cyrus will emerge after the rootsy and real ‘Younger Now’, but we recommend enjoying Country Miley for as long as she lasts.