Lea Michele just released her debut album Louder, and it’s seriously awesome. It has a distinctive sound that her fans are going to love. Instead of letting some old music critic who doesn’t actually listen to pop music review the album, I (as both a Lea Michele and pop music fan) have decided to give it a go. Here’s a track-by-track review of Lea Michele’s Louder.
The lead single off of Louder was co-written by Michele and Australian pop powerhouse Sia, and added to the album last-minute after the passing of Cory Monteith. Lyrically it touches on how she’s overcome loss — “I chose suffering and pain in the falling rain. I know, I gotta get out into the world again”. Cannonball is the perfect lead single, because it establishes Michele’s sound, letting listeners know that she’s not abandoning her musical theatre roots, but taking that technique with her into the pop world.
2. On My Way
On My Way has potential to be a huge pop hit. It’s in the format of a Kelly Clarkson song, meaning there’s a catchy verse, a killer hook that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs, and a haunting bridge. Michele’s ability to transition between her head and chest voice is flawless.
3. Burn With You
Lyrically similar to “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right),” Michele sings, “I don’t wanna go to heaven if you’re going to hell; I will burn with you.” The verses show off her lower register beautifully and the way she slides up on the high notes is reminiscent of Celine Dion, meaning: This is really freaking good!
If this song doesn’t give you chills, there’s something seriously wrong with you. The heartache is palpable as she sings about love gone wrong. There is no one in pop music right now who is singing songs like this, no one. Rumor has it she recorded the song in two takes, and how nice is it to hear a ballad without auto tune? Yes, I’m talking to you, Rihanna.
5. You’re Mine
Musically, this is probably my least favorite track on the album. The verses and chorus aren’t cohesive, and “You’re Mine” sounds like it could have been on a Jessica Simpson or Mandy Moore album from the late 90s. The songs one redeeming quality is that Lea revealed this was her song for Cory, which makes it worth a spin.
6. Thousand Needles
Another great and dramatic track with a similar vibe to Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.” Great production, great vocal, and definitely worth a download.
You’re not a pop artist if you don’t have a self-empowerment song. “Louder” is Lea’s answer to Katy Perry’s “Firework,” P!nk’s “Perfect,” or Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Yet, somehow it’s more believable since we’ve actually seen her go through struggle and then overcome it. “Why don’t ya scream a little louder?”
8. Cue The Rain
On “Cue The Rain,” Lea shows off her writing chops, singing about her breakup with ex-boyfriend/Broadway star Theo Stockman. She has a way of delivering a dark lyric with optimism. Most memorable lyrics: “The city was on fire for us, we would have died for us, up in flames, cue the rain.” This isn’t singing, this is SANGING.
9. Don’t Let Go
“Don’t Let Go” is what I like to call a white girl jam. It’s the kind of song you want to have a pillow fight to, or put on lip-gloss and drive around with the windows down. This is a killer hook that will be stuck in your head all day long.
10. Empty Handed
“Empty Handed” is a great contrast to the rest of Louder. Co-written by Christina Perri and David Hodges, it has a lullaby like quality with a Coldplay-style piano breakdown. “Empty Handed” sits in a really pretty part of Lea’s voice. Okay, every part of her voice is really pretty, but the melody is super simple, which makes the song even more powerful. Best listened to with a cup of cocoa, preferably by a fire.
11. If You Say So
“If You Say So” is by far the most powerful and personal song on Louder. Co-written by Michele and Sia, it details the last conversation that she had with boyfriend Cory Monteith before his tragic passing. Don’t listen to this song with out a box of Kleenex nearby. A perfect ending to a great pop album.