Aside from instrumentation and technology, though, an essential aspect of great music is in the lyrics ... the words the artist chooses, the fit with the composition, and the emotion they evoke. The means by which the lyrics are conveyed is of particular importance ... the vocalization, with all of the little hiccups, legato, phrasing, staccato, projection, intonations, head and chest voices, full voice, guttural sounds, and so forth, that accompany the vocals. And not least of all, it is the intention behind the piece. Of course, rock as a genre, by its very nature, is meant to upset, to cajole, to get people to move, think, rebel against the machine, want sex, want to dance, want to punch the sky, and made to feel. It is not granola or vanilla. It is hot sauce and chocolate with nuts. It works in contrasts with misery or delight, peaks and valleys. Not an even strain or even keel or steady as she goes. Rock rattles the soul.
Some of the album shows anger or emotional turmoil resulting from episodes in Miley's life ... and in at least in one case, in the life of a friend. Listening closely, one will find influences of multiple genres throughout the album, but I think it can best be described as more classical, early rock or rockabilly in terms of overall orientation. To be sure, there are big strains of country ... but also hints of hip hop, pop-rock, psychedelic, EDM, and alternative ... But it's Miley Cyrus most of all. That's important; and it's also the "beauty part," as old timers in New York are wont to say. It has her sometimes idiosyncratic idiom and grammar, her Tennessee twang, and, characteristically, it's also part autobiography. It also has the infectious punctuations ... the yeahs, and the ohs, and the guttural exclamations, breaks, and hiccups that characterize her vocals. One of the things that makes her music outstanding to me is that I can listen to it over long periods. There are other great vocalists and artists that I can listen to, but usually for only a few songs before I need something else. Miley, like only a handful of others, is someone I can listen to for hours at a time without a break. This album makes one want to drive and drive in the car, like the old days with my eight track ... not stopping til it's over, going around the block just one more time until it is and before pulling into the garage.