Gwen Stefani has been away from the pop music scene for some time now. If you don’t count the No Doubt “comeback” album that never really was, 2012’s underrated Push and Shove (and I don’t), it’s been almost a decade. 2006’s The Sweet Escape was a mixed bag of a record, containing some really stellar tracks (the album’s title track, “Early Winter,” “4 in the Morning” to name a few) but was bogged down by too many filler tracks that never lived up to the level of her No Doubt efforts, or even her now iconic solo debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Though she can churn out a basic, infectious pop anthem (“Wind It Up,” “Rich Girl,” “Hollaback Girl”) Setfani is at her best when she’s being personal. “What You Waiting For,” “Cool,” “Early Winter” and No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” are all essential listens, and each detail a story or conflict straight from the singer/songwriter’s life.