‘Louder‘ has indeed been a long time coming in which Lea Michele makes a departure from the theatrics of teen comedy ‘Glee‘ to establishing herself as a fully-fledged pop artist. As expected, she offers a mix of upbeat pop anthems and heartfelt ballads inspired from the unfortunate passing of long-time boyfriend Cory Monteith in an exciting and diverse debut.
Lead single ‘Cannonball‘ starts it all off, an empowering track penned by Sia and Benny Blanco that hit close to home once Monteith tragically died. Michele’s vocals, although on the dramatic side, embody power and survival hence why it leads the record. ‘On My Way‘ follows and is a definite hit. Michele’s smooth tones eventually build up to a glorious main event where she rocks out over returning to a guilty pleasure, knowing she should steer away.
‘Burn With You‘ is the third track, a quirky song of devotion reflecting on eternal loving, “I don’t wanna go to heaven if you’re going to hell/I will burn with you, I will burn with you“. The mid-tempo track is worth a listen, as is gentle piano-led ‘Battlefield‘. Slightly raspy, Michele gives her all in struggling to say goodbye to a love interest. ‘You’re Mine‘ is the fifth track and although it features clever production with extracts from Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice‘, the song gets lost amidst the more meaningful tracks.
‘Thousand Needles‘ comes next, its eerie verses lead to a dynamic chorus where Michele shows the extent of her vocal range, the singer is aware that the relationship is hanging by a weakening thread. ‘Louder‘, likewise to ‘On My Way‘ is a bustling track of energy in which Lea herself described perfectly to Billboard: “It’s a song that, no matter what, I can play in my car with the windows down.” She is so right! ‘Cue the Rain‘ follows being one of the tracks co-written by Michele, the vocals suffice but she uses the all too familiar pop formula which already dominates our iPods.
Next is ‘Don’t Let Go‘, a pithy fast-paced filler to ease you into ‘Empty Handed‘, a song memorable more for its absorbing electric guitar and percussion rather than what Michele adds. However, she saves one of the best and perhaps most tragic till last with ‘If You Say So‘. It’s clear the star co-wrote this track with such gut-wrenching lyrics as: “It’s been seven whole days, seven whole days since you paralysed me.” The song completely grips with its gentle piano and Lea’s perfectly mastered vocals.
On reflection, the stand-out tracks are definitely the exercise jams ‘On My Way‘ and ‘Louder‘ as well as the flawless closing piece ‘If You Say So‘. Although Broadway echoes in the background of this imperfect album – in the end – we’re still left wanting more guaranteeing Michele’s first effort more than respectable.