One day I might get it right
Am I ready for tonight
Kylie Minogue is fifty this year, and she is not afraid to admit it, hence the title of her fourteenth album, Golden. And as she goes in Stop Me from Falling, one day she might get things right, but for now, she’s just going to sit back, let her hair down, and go all mellow on people. After all, she’s just left another relationship in the dust, and she has come to terms with herself not possibly settling down and having children. It’s okay, she’s at peace with that, although there is an underlying tinge of melancholy in every song here, even the ones with the happiest faςade.
In Dancing, probably the most country track in this lot, she sings defiantly that she wanna go out dancing, and it’s pretty obvious she’s not just talking about a night out at the honky-tonk bar. What could have been a banal, happy song ends up being the perfect song to sing off-key to when one is feeling nihilistic or just plain drunk. We all deserve to go out dancing, don’t we all? A few tracks later, there’s Lost without You, which seems to a throwback to her disco days – it’s a perfect hybrid of Buddha bar zen and dance floor cooldown anthem, until one listens to closely to the words and realizes that this is a bookend of sorts to Dancing: that woman who wants to go out dancing is afraid of what happens when she completely lets go, but at the same time, she doesn’t want to be safe – she wants to abandon herself to the uncertainty of come what may.
From the deceptively gaily Dolly Parton-esque Shelby ’68 to the rousing title track, every song here resonates with me. It’s like listening to someone who has been through life’s ups and downs, sharing her stories with me in a way that is unexpectedly poignant and even heartbreaking at times. Her duet with Jack Savoretti, Music’s Too Sad without You, is probably the most obvious song in this album, but it’s a beautiful song that continues the theme of how love and life can make you the happiest person alive even as they rip your heart into bloody pieces. There are happier moments too – Rollin’ is all about moving past adversity, while Low Blow is an unapologetic song all about falling in love – and it’s probably not a coincidence that these two cheeriest songs close Golden after what is basically a collection of songs about Ms Minogue’s ups and downs in Heartbreak City over the last few years.
Admittedly, the songs by themselves are not groundbreaking at any means. They can be on the generic side, a bit country and a bit pop with a big dose of generic production values. But the stories they tell, ah, they make me smile, perhaps with a slight tinge melancholy. Sure, she sounds playful and even sultry when she croons in Shelby ’68:
I know you’re gonna break my heart
When I get in your car
Oh, the trouble I’m in when we take that spin
Yeah, I’m in
I know there’d be hell to pay
Baby, I just can’t wait
Oh, I’m gonna get high when I take that ride
In that Shelby ’68
But it’s pretty obvious that she’s been on that ride before. She’d been high and then she’d fallen down hard, but she’d just bounce back up and look for the next ride. Just like all of us. Sure, she is Kylie Minogue, far more gorgeous than any of us would ever be, and she certainly can’t relate to us or we she… but somehow, in Golden, oh yes, she can and so can I. Thus, while this album may not score that high if I look at it from a production value and creativity perspective, it tells a good story that gets under my skin and makes me dwell a bit on the bruises here and there on my heart. And that’s a good thing, if you ask me.