Sunday, March 9, 2014
Lea Michele is Certainly Loud on Louder
Anyone who expected Lea Michele's debut album to be stylistically triumphant should have known better. The Broadway baby rose to fame belting other people's tunes with her powerhouse voice. She's a vocalist, not a pop star. In that regard, Louder is as much a title as it is a warning label. On this album, the Glee star isn't singing to top 40 fans driving in their cars, she's singing to the back of the theater.
Lea's undeniable vocal chops are double-edged sword. In an industry dominated by female pop stars try to out-weird and out-sex each other, Lea's defining characteristic is her godly voice. But it's also the very thing that shuts her out of her aforementioned target demographic. Still, Louder is exquisite and overall enjoyable.
"Cannonball", the album's opener and lead singer, is easily Louder's strongest track. Written by Sia Furler, the anthemic tune is another entry in the tried-and-true self-empowerment theme that has been blowing up the radio in the past few years. On "Battlefield", the singer employs a rare bout of vocal restraint, proving that she is capable of far more than she shows off on this album.
Not unexpectedly, the album addresses the loss of Cory Monteith several times, most poignantly on "If You Say So." The song, which takes place lyrically seven days after his passing and recalls their last words to each other, embodies the grief, frustration, and depression Lea must have grappled with at the time. "Empty Handed", co-penned by Christina Perri, offers a gentle pathos, with lyrics like, "All I've ever known is how to hide a secret/But I'm tired of going on without believing."
The album suffers from songs like "Burn With You", on which Lea quite literally expresses her willingness to burn in Hell with her lover. "On My Way" is plagued by tired themes of intoxication, with questionable lyrics such as "My heart's too drunk to drive."
As a whole, the album will leave you feel exhausted from her overextended vocals and lack of thematic diversity. Louder is an phenomenal showcase for Lea as a singer, but it lacks the artistry someone with her voice deserves. It might be better to stick to the Glee covers, girl.