Unlike recent collections Music and Ray of Light, the lyrical content of American Life relies less on spiritual introspection and more on woman-in-the-mirror confrontation.

Unlike recent collections Music and Ray of Light, the lyrical content of American Life relies less on spiritual introspection and more on woman-in-the-mirror confrontation. Here, Madonna takes a look at where she's been, where she's at, and where she hopes to go. Perhaps age, yoga, and the teachings of the Kabbalah have truly enlightened Madonna about human nature—and the reality that nobody's perfect. Musically, American Life continues where Music left off, with stuttering beats and acoustic guitar providing the bulk of the foundation. Highlights include the gorgeous lullaby "X-Static Process," which is equal parts Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens; the tear-inducing "Nothing Fails," replete with gospel choir; the electro-skewed "Mother and Father"; and the punky "Hollywood," which is this album's "Ray of Light." Consider American Life Madonna's own version of Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.—MP