NEW YORK (Reuters) - Madonna proves her staying power as a creative force and an enduring pop icon with her new album, “Rebel Heart,” her 13th studio release that also shows her renegade and softer sides.
It is a revealing portrait of the Material Girl, showing the Grammy-winning singer as a trail-blazer and provocateur but also someone who is sensitive, reflective and outsider.
Madonna, 56, told Reuters that the album’s title “Rebel Heart” reflected her original intent to make a two-sided record featuring 10 songs on each.
“One side was going to be the more rebellious, provocative, envelope pushing part of me and the other side was going to be the more romantic, vulnerable side and they end up getting all mushed together,” she said.
“Rebel Heart” is her first album since 2012’s “MDNA,” which shot to the top of the Billboard 200 chart. It is also somewhat autobiographical with tracks like “Veni Vidi Vici,” which chronicles her career, and personal, revealing feelings of insecurity, heart ache and loss.
The album’s 19 tracks includes lush, lyrical ballads, such as “Devil Pray,” “Ghosttown” and “Joan of Arc” that ponder the meaning of life, breakups and love.
“Each time they write a hateful word/Dragging my soul into the dirt/I wanna die/Never admit it but it hurts,” she says in “Joan of Arc.”
But Madonna also lets loose with catchy dance numbers including “Living for Love” and “Unapologetic Bitch,” a collaboration with Grammy-nominated American DJ Diplo.
“He likes to make people get up out of their seat and dance and so do it,” she said about Diplo.
“Living for Love,” the lead single has a thumping disco beat with lyrics about the heartache of a parting and picking herself up to find love again.
Madonna returns to themes of sex and religion, which she said she finds infinitely interesting topics.
“They are as important to people as they are misunderstood,” she explained. “They both bring a lot of light into the world and a lot of darkness. For those reasons, I like to explore them.”
For “Rebel Heart,” Madonna collaborated with rapper Kanye West on four songs, Swedish DJ and producer Avicii, American producer and songwriter Toby Gad, among others. West, rappers Nas and Nicki Minaj and boxer Mike Tyson also lent their vocals on tracks.
Madonna will support “Rebel Heart” with an international tour beginning in Miami on Aug. 29.
Additional reporting by Alicia Powel; editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and W Simon