Dangerous Woman is young pop star Ariana Grande‘s most recent attempt to solidify her status as one of the biggest names in today’s pop music. Grande’s third album shows her growth as an artist — she is more mature and confident, but with its gaps and stylistic leaps, it fails to present a finished record and rather seemingly rests on a rather good bunch of singular pop hits.

‘Dangerous Woman’ by Ariana Grande Album Review

Grande’s ability to adapt to a wide range of musical styles transfers over from her earlier collaborative work with artists like Iggy Azalia, Jessie J and The Weeknd. Dangerous Woman is as diverse as those duets. Grande largely explores two opposing sides to her music — the gentle, romantic ballads and the sassier, smashing hits — and among those there’s still more variety to be discovered thanks to a lineup of powerhouse collaborators and Grande’s own quest for finding her voice.

Though it showcases Grande’s fascinating vocal range, opener “Moonlight” sounds more like a Mariah Carey-inspired balladic Christmas song. The track fails to immerse the listener in the predominant mood of the record, which is a rather unfortunate way to lead into an album that has a wide range of feats to demonstrate. The mellow opener is followed by the explosive rock-ornamented title track – quite the shocking transition.

Grande shifts gears yet again with breathy, deep house tune “Be Alright” and explosive “Into You” while maintaining the fierceness set by the title track. The singer continues exploring this sexy and confident side with duets like the reggae-infused “Side to Side” featuring a smashing verse by Nicki Minaj, the Lil Wayne-assisted R&B jam “Let Me Love You” and the textured Future collab “Everyday.” Grande’s more vulnerable side shows through just slightly on the last, where despite the commonplace lyrics, the singer reasserts her affection towards her boyfriend.

On the more sweetly romantic side, tracks like “I Don’t Care” and closer “Thinking Bout You” are slow, raw R&B love songs that remain just as powerful in delivery while unveiling a softer and more mature approach. The most surprising and intriguing tracks on Dangerous Woman is yet another collaboration – “Leave Me Lonely” featuring none other than songstress Macy Gray. Gray’s raspy vocals provide the necessary texture to counterbalance Grande’s impeccable delivery. “Leave Me Lonely” is a haunting song that builds up slowly to a soulful and thrilling tale about the dangers of love.

Ultimately, Dangerous Woman is a well-polished album, showing Grande’s progress as an artist over the last few years. Grande has no lack of talent with her wide range and dynamics, but she is clearly still trying to find her place as an artist in between the many possibilities of pop music.