I have a theory that at this point in her career, making a piano-only album would be the most subversive thing Lady Gaga could do. It would also be the best.
This is somewhat proved by the fact that every time she applies a stripped-down piano format to one of her established tracks, as she has now done with the title track from her most recent album Joanne (hear it above), she somehow makes magic. The updated version, re-titled "Joanne (Where Do You Think You're Going?)" gives the song new breathing space, and a more classic tone. That's where Gaga—showy to her bones—should be going now, because she has the chops to achieve real timelessness, without gimmicks or schtick.
Previous versions of "Paparazzi" and "Bad Romance" are testament to that: they take away the shock value visuals (which, undoubtedly, have their place, and made Gaga great), and highlight her pure musical skill. And when Gaga puts piano-led tracks on her albums, they're often the standouts ("Speechless," "Million Reasons," "Dope"), because they give her real room to flex her considerable vocals, which remain some of the most accomplished in pop, and her knack for melody. Given her start in music as a songwriter, this may be the format in which she's some of the most comfortable—presumably, it's how she tends to write. And wouldn't a piano album actually be kind of a shocker, from an artist who has built her career on being a provocateur, and who was praised for her unexpectedness upon performing a straightforward version of "The Sound of Music" at the 2015 Oscars? I think it'd be the most exciting embrace of her own musicianship she could possibly make.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.