Ray Of Light (1998)

Ray Of Light (1998)

Ray Of Light reestablished Madonna as a groundbreaking artist, thanks in part to the quality of the album but also the context from which it emerged. Boy bands and Disney alums ruled the pop charts in the late ’90s, and Madonna’s reemergence onto the scene had a commanding presence over the genre. Its lyrical depth gave the album a sense of maturity, and marked another reinvention in Madonna’s history. Rather than relying on her veteran status, Ray Of Light offered an innovative sound, with many crediting the album for bringing electronica to the mainstream.

Leveraging her voice lessons from the Evita soundtrack, Madonna offers her strongest vocals and breadth of range in Ray Of Light. The album, despite all its experimentation with producer William Orbit, captured a larger audience than previous albums, marking her final departure from teen pop. Ray of Light was her first since motherhood, and born from her earliest studies of the Kabbalah. In addition to references of Jewish mysticism, the lyrics to “Shanti/Ashtangi” are adapted from Yoga Taravali, a Sanskrit text written by the 8th century Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara. When not singing in Sanskrit or bringing underground electronica into the spotlight, the album gives her a vertical for spiritual exploration, lyrically developing ideas on Hinduism, Buddhism, and that old hat of hers Catholicism. The result is her most expansive project to date. With its inclusion of innovative synth technology and production, it is a holistic project that seems to encompass all of her spiritual and musical drifting.

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