Friday, February 28, 2014

Track By Track Album Review: Lea Michele - Louder

Lea Michele's debut album already has far more battle wounds to it than almost any other album imaginable. Her boyfriend, Corey Monteith passed away this past July, and the album's tracks already bare the scars Lea had to endure.

Cannonball: The album's drum lead lead single plays it very safe, it's in the same ballpark as Roar in terms of empowerment and sound. Except Cannonball doesn't offer any powerful roaring notes, something one would expect from Glee's powerhouse vocalist. While Lea sounds liberated, the song doesn't do anything to further that emotion. B-

On My Way: The 2nd title track doesn't bare any real correlation to Monteith ("I should stay away from you tonight"), and doesn't sound like it either. The production packs a lot into the 3 and a half minute track, Wrecking Ball's scarce synth plucks, drums, acoustic and electric guitars, and loaded with synths in the chorus. It seems very Top 40 ready, and is a great listen, but it's hard to picture someone like Demi Lovato not singing this song and being much more effective with it. B+

Burn With You: I've been ignoring most of the lyrics for the previous tracks because I believed they would get better, but this song brings mixed results lyrically. Lea first states "Even angels have their demons," which is an over done lyrical line. But then she proclaims: "But I don't wanna go to heaven / If you're going to hell / I will burn with you," which is pretty daring lyrically (and thematically). Is this song about Monteith? Does she believe he's going to Hell? One has to appreciate the risk she took here, but also slightly confused or concerned with it as well. B

Battlefield: Sia Furler wrote the track specifically for Lea after Monteith's death, but it takes place in a very present tense which is off putting. "Peace will come when one of us puts down the gun," maybe their relationship wasn't as perfect as everyone thought it was. The track doesn't do much sadly, no crescendos, in fact it's even a bit pointless. C-

You're Mine: First thought: Album filler. Second thought: She sounds great. C-

Thousand Needles: Yes Lea! You finally sound like you're in pain! Hearing the growls and only relying on your voice to propel the song is exactly what you should've been doing all along! She hasn't been doing much with her soaring soprano pipes for most of the album, and now that she's finally using them, it's pretty darn exciting. And even better, the song itself isn't half bad. A-

Louder: The song sounds like Kesha's idea of a ballad, but Lea's idea as a party song. It fits both labels effectively. A standard Pop "Oh-oh" hook, but some pretty dark lyrics. And the production is not only empowering, but genuinely fun and well-intentioned. And at the end, we get actually get an upper belt that we've been waiting for! Instant stand-out. A-

Cue The Rain: "We would've died for us." What? She's talking about driving down a road, and wanting it to rain like normal, but of course she's thinking about a past lover. The song finally finds it's forte in the 2nd chorus, Lea, the production and the lyrics all finally seem to agree on what the song should convey. Lea throws in some more tasty growls, and is finally screaming for the rain. B+

Don't Let Go: It's about a relationship, and it's not sad! Lea sounds hopeful, and happy, which is some much needed relief from most of the albums somewhat morbid tendencies. You can picture Lea smiling and jumping up and down on her bed with someone new, which is an adorable sight for a cute song. B+

Empty Handed: It's another love song, and while it's not happy, it's not morbid either. She still sounds hopeful, but less battered and bruised. It sinks into the battlefield that is the rest of the album though. B-

If You Say So: The final song that is actually confirmed to be about Monteith, that takes place "seven whole days" after Corey "lost his fight." It's the first song that makes your gut turn a little bit, Lea really gets raw and personal, and lets everyone peer into how hard Corey's death really was on her. It might not be too relatable because of how directly it relates to Lea, but you will still feel something in the end. Great way to end the album. A

Overall, it's a pretty solid debut from an already well established pop star. It does have it's faults, Lea and the songs arrangements don't always seem to agree with what should be done, Lea actually undersings quite a lot on this album, and the morbid tendency of the album can become a bit overwhelming in the albums middle half. But it has its fun moments, and the necessary sad ones, which cannot be overlooked. This album sets up a promising future for Miss Michele.

Vocals: B+
Production: B
Overall: B