Lea Michele's 'Louder': A Review
When I say Lea Michele, the first thing that anyone is going to think of is the spunky and dramatic career driven ‘Glee’ star Rachel Berry.
But she is more than that: actress, Broadway star, author and with the release of her debut album, ‘Louder’ she can add solo recording artist and pop star to her resume.
When Lea announced she was recording her debut album, most viewers (myself included) figured the album would be an over sung collection of theater inspired songs that only a few would care about. So much so that even admitted Glee fanatics seemed hesitant. Despite my reservations, I gave her single ‘Cannonball’ a chance and was instantly hooked. With one single, I changed from nervous to eager and the album's release date couldn’t arrive soon enough.
Lucky for us, what we got was a pop record that is not only fun, but emotional and heartfelt all at the same time. ‘Louder’ is a smart, well composed album full of pop gems that everyone should listen to at least once. There is going to be at least one song that will make you come back for more.
In the beginning, this is what I imagined the album would sound like.
Cannonball: A very dramatic, but uplifting ballad in which Lea’s voice soars, celebrating overcoming adversity. I thought it was the perfect debut to smash through any misconceptions of what Lea is about. “I’ll fly, I’ll fly, I’ll fly like a cannonball” she wails taking us high into the clouds with her as her voice takes us on a journey.
The video for Lea's first single, 'Cannonball'.
On My Way: For Lea’s second single, we get an upbeat summer song in which she coolly croons about a seasonal fling. She knows she should avoid it, but her heart tells her otherwise “My mind tells me no. My heart says ‘go slow’.” The chorus is helplessly catchy and I often find myself humming it. It's such a fun song, that you won't be able to keep yourself from putting it on repeat.
A fun video for single #2 'On My Way'.
Burn with You: This deliciously dark song is written about a love that she simply couldn’t exist without. A proclamation that verges from sweet to almost obsessive. “I don’t wanna go to heaven, if you’re going to hell. I’ll burn with you.” That just about says it all. An emotional song that lovers would be able to appreciate.
Battlefield: This ballad is about an ending relationship. A slow realization that something once so cherished has finally broken. Unrepairable. “What seemed like a good idea, has turned into a battlefield” She cries, defeated. What makes this song great is I can hear the gritty heartbreak in her voice. Not many artists can relay emotion like this, and Lea can punch you in the gut with hers.
You’re Mine: ‘You’re Mine’ is a great love song, telling a story of two people coming together and falling in love. Vowing to stay with each other for a lifetime. Lea’s perfectly powerful voice will set your heart a flutter once the chorus kicks in “I’ll be by your side, we are entwined.” Lea proclaims. Her pitch perfect voice carries the song with such grace. It was clearly meant for her.
Thousand Needles: This is as close to a power ballad as we will get from Lea. Rueful verses that climax into a deafening chorus that has our heroine moaning "A thousand needles in my heart, sure made it painful from the start.” The perfect balance of sadness and strength.
Louder: One of the album's few fast paced tracks, ‘Louder’ is very energetic. Lea’s booming voice, backed by powerful drums, is instantly uplifting and revitalizing. I can really appreciate the message of the song, there is no need to hide, go ahead and be yourself, be a little bolder, be a little louder. “All we ever hear are whispers” she coos softly before switching gears into the big chorus proclaiming “I just wanna hear your voice!”
Lea describes her album track by track, part one.
Cue the Rain: Lea sounds very regretful on this track, reminding herself of someone that has since been lost. “And I find myself looking for you.” I still haven’t figured out if she’s looking for a lover, a ghost or a memory, but whatever it is will certainly be drawn back to her soulful melancholy.
Don’t Let Go: This track starts off quickly and the pace keeps up during the entirety of the song. By far the most energetic on the album. Despite her private tragedies it’s amazing to hear such positive feelings from the album, especially with ‘Don’t Let Go’. “Flying high as a kite, no ground below.” Yep, that’s how it feels listening to this one.
Empty Handed: Empty Handed is by far the most syrupy ballad on the entire album. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that it’s not appropriate for all moods. Lea’s aching heart is searching for someone who can make her whole once again, even though she has nothing to offer but love. “If I finally let you in, would you show me what love really is?” She wonders.
If You Say So: This song is an emotional masterpiece. One of the few songs that I’ve ever heard that projects heart break so well that it can make the listener feel intense pain. I won’t lie that I wept the first time I really listened to it, and let the words sink in. A tribute to Cory I’m sure, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. Brutally honest, her woeful moans exude emotion and you can’t help but mourn with her. “Seven whole days since you paralyzed me.”
Standout tracks: Cannonball, Louder, Don’t Let Go, Burn with You, If You Say So
The conclusion of Lea's track by track review of 'Louder'.
Have you heard the album? What is your favorite song?
Name of Release
Peak Position (US)
March 3, 2014
December 10, 2013
On My Way (single)
May 4, 2014