Glee‘s golden girl is ready to perform her new starring role… as a pop singer! Branching out from her character of Broadway diva Rachel Berry, Lea Michele has dropped her debut solo album, Louder, an aptly-named collection of original music that allow her undeniable powerhouse vocals to take center stage.
From pulsating pop/dance tracks to passion-filled power ballads, the tracks have dynamic hooks, gorgeous melodies, and heartfelt lyrics, with each song bearing important messages on going through difficulties and surviving on hope in love and in life.
Louder kicks off with the lead single, “Cannonball” about overcoming obstacles by breaking free from darkness, finding freedom in the light, and starting a new beginning. Other uptempo numbers on the record include the EDM-fueled “On My Way”, about recklessly running back to someone “in a black-out state of mind” who you should stay away from, “Don’t Let Go”, about allowing yourself to soar high into a new relationship, will have you wanting to get up and dance, and the pulsing title track, “Louder”, a motivating anthem about seizing your moments to shine in the spotlight (“Why don’t you scream a little louder?”).
Lea dazzles on the ballads, which include the piano-driven and dramatic “Battlefield”, on letting go of a love that’s proven to be hazardous for both sides (“We seemed like a good idea…”), the heart-wrenching and sorrowful turmoil of “Thousand Needles”, strong in its storm imagery to illustrate a painful relationship, and the spectacular and stunning “Empty Handed”, about letting love in to heal you (“If I fell into you, would it be close enough?”), with a crescendo that is moving and masterful. Rounding out the standard version of the album are two midtempos – the moody and passionately intense “Burn With You”, about a love so wrong, it’s right, and so imperfect, it’s perfect, and “Cue the Rain” (co-written by Lea), on looking back on and longing for a relationship that has flamed out (“The city was on fire for us”).
The three bonus tracks on the iTunes and deluxe editions of Louder are “What is Love?”, which acts out the roles of a disingenuous relationship (“You play the role / I play the lead / We strike a pose / I was too blind to see / This ain’t what it seems”), another co-write by Lea, “Gone Tonight”, about forgiveness and moving forward (“Right under the bridge like water / Promising to love you harder”) and “The Bells”, on the struggle of being left behind and trying to move on when the memories still linger.
Listeners will certainly be paying attention to Louder to see what songs are about Lea’s late boyfriend and co-star, Cory Monteith. In interviews, Lea has identified the soaring and striking “You’re Mine” as a song she was inspired to include on her album for it resembled their romantic relationship, with lyrics that tell the story of a couple that is making a commitment to one another by saying those three words (“I’m yours and you are mine”). “If You Say So”, the final track of and latest addition to the album (as well as the most devastating), recounts Lea’s last conversation with Cory from the perspective of the week after tragedy struck. How she was able to re-live that final exchange is beyond comprehension, but her complete vulnerability makes this song an extremely emotional listening experience. It is haunting and gut-wrenching when she sings the line, “How could you leave me this way?” It is a reminder that we should make sure our parting words with the people we care about are always filled with love and compassion.
Representing and chronicling the past two years of Lea’s life, with the highest highs and the lowest lows, Louder asserts the importance of music in the healing process. She was able to express her feelings of grief and her discovery of hope and strength through song, and since this was therapeutic for her, it can be a support system for listeners as well.
In CLEO magazine, Lea sums it up with this statement on why she chose Louder as the name of her album:
“In life, it’s so important to love as hard as you can love, to live as hard as you can live and to really live life to the fullest because we are only given one life. I feel it’s important to be bold, be brave and be strong. Live your life louder.”
Lea Michele’s Louder is available on iTunes.