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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Ariana Grande pushes art more deeply than she has before

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Ariana Grande has long been one of pop music’s most talented and versatile singers, but her songwriting abilities have always been limited by the restriction of pop’s predictable patterns.

Grande, 24, is generally too sensitive and brilliant-dumb-tough, and her songs have been synonymous with angst, long-lasting feelings and outspoken emotions.

But now she seems to have found some musical freedom. Some of her best collaborations so far have been with British artists Sam Smith and Jessie J.

But on her new album, “Sweetener,” she’s giving herself over entirely to her band The Warblers.

And so she gives us songs like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Too Little Too Late” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

“I feel like I really got away with something on this album,” she said on “Today.” “I’m not a pop star. I’m a dreamer.”

While “Sweetener” could easily have been a single person’s album, because of these collaborations, and her efforts to experiment with The Warblers, she has created something more ambitious, and a surprise.

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