Unlike her two most recent collections, "Music" and "Ray of Light," the lyrical content of Madonna's "American Life" relies less on spiritual introspection and more on woman-in-the-mirror confrontation. Here, the artist 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.
Sonically, "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." The title cut is No. 37 this week on the Billboard Hot 100.
On Tuesday, the singer will perform her new songs live for the first time in a one-hour MTV special, "Madonna on Stage & on the Record." The same day, she will be featured on NBC's "Today" and "Dateline," and she is set to perform on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman." The artist also will also appear on ABC morning talk show "Live With Regis and Kelly" on April 23, and make a highly publicized guest appearance on NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" in an episode airing April 24.