Miley Cyrus' artistic evolution is fully showcased on her sixth studio effort Younger Now, the most personal and uncompromising collection of her young career. Stripped-back but intricately textured, free-spirited but introspective, Younger Now sees the 24-year-old breaking new ground and reaching a new level of self-possession in her artistry. Along with crafting every lyric and melody on her own, Cyrus worked with just one collaborator: writer/producer Oren Yoel, whose previous work includes Bangerz' opening number "Adore You."
Built on a lucidly arranged, guitar-driven sound, Younger Now bears a homegrown quality that's perfectly suited to the intimacy of each song. With the album aptly centering on Cyrus's unforgettable voice – and her vocal presence at its most nuanced and powerful – her lyrics reveal a raw vulnerability partly inspired by a deep-rooted love of country legends like Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and her own godmother, Dolly Parton. Mixing the heart-on-sleeve sensitivity of country with the revolutionary edge of '60s rock-and-roll, Younger Now emerges as an album that's blissfully defiant in its unrestrained passion.
On Younger Now's lead single "Malibu," Cyrus keeps up the summery mood and shimmering feel of the title track, offering a celebration of both self-love and epic romance. From there, her bravely confessional lyrics illuminate everything from bittersweet heartbreak (on the girl-group-influenced "Week Without You") to dreamy infatuation (on the beautifully understated "I Would Die for You") to stormy exasperation (on "Love Someone," an irresistibly gritty track powered by smoldering guitar riffs).
Showing the scope of its sonic and emotional palette, Younger Now also features tracks like "Thinkin'" (a snarling piece of power-pop) and "She's Not Him" (a soulful look at the complexities of fluid sexuality). Elsewhere, Cyrus channels her unapologetic honesty into candid social commentary, such as on the stomping, spaghetti-western-tinged "Bad Mood." On "Rainbowland," Dolly Parton joins her goddaughter in a joyful, harmony-laced duet that praises the beauty of difference. Finally, the album-closing "Inspired" turns Cyrus' childhood memories of her father into a potent message of hope in troubled times.