We know Lea Michele from the hit television show Glee and as a Broadway star. But are we ready to know her as a pop-diva? Michele has portrayed the ambitious Rachel Berry on the musical comedy show Glee since 2009 and now it looks like she is ready to take a step away from show tunes and move into a more modern musical space on her debut solo album, Louder.
In the album’s opener and the first single, “Cannonball”, Michele sings about being able to live your life to the fullest even after a traumatic event. This anthemic track is written by performer and songwriter, Sia, who is known for contributing her penning skills to major pop music in the last few years. While I would not go as far as to say it is the best track on the album, Michele’s vocals are brilliantly showcased, which is a smart way to open up the album.
The album itself seems to be a personal expression of finding her own voice as an artist, by the end finding a resounding confidence. It has an excellent balance of anthemic ballads and catchy potential pop hits. Another lovely track is the piano ballad “Battlefield” which gives off a familiar Rachel Berry vibe. With lyrics such as “You and I/ We have to let each other go/ We keep holding on but we both know/ What seemed like a good idea has turned into a battlefield,” along with Michele’s emotional delivery, the song undoubtedly pulls at listeners heart strings.
Additionally, the track”Empty Handed” draws listeners in with it’s soft addition of guitar, which makes a distinct impression in contrast to the rest of the album’s melodies. Talking about the truth and importance in love, this track is co-written by Christina Perri, an artist known most notably for her hit “Jar of Hearts.”
The song has a souring, hopeful feel to it and a male’s vocals are accompanied, which instantly makes listeners think of a Rachel and Finn duet.
Many who listen to the album will search for mention or influence of Cory Monteith’s untimely passing – which is perfectly alluded to with the tear-jerking album closer, “If You Say So.” After the death of Monteith, Michele co-wrote this track which goes without saying is definitely the most personal on Louder. The song includes heart-breaking lyrics such as “I want to see your face, I’ve got some things to say/ Was just a week ago you said ‘I love you girl’ / I said ‘I love you more’ / Then a breath, a pause, he said ‘if you say so.’” It is hard not to feel emotional when listening to this song, especially with knowing the tragedy of Michele and Monteith’s love story. This track is without a doubt a stand-out on the album. The heartbreak that Michele is dealing with is evident and devastating. Have tissues nearby!
All in all, Louder is complimentary to Lea Michele and a great debut. Listeners will smile, dance, and cry, for the album delivers a wide-spread feeling of emotion. The songs in the album fit very well together and without a doubt is made up of strong and memorable tracks.