Lea Michele is an actress, singer/songwriter and actor, she started her career as a child actress on Broadway, starring in the likes of Les Misérables and Fiddler on the Roof. She first came to the public’s attention for playing the role of Rachel Berry on the Fox musical comedy-drama television series, Glee. Today I’ll be reviewing her debut album ‘Louder’ which was released on February 28th 2014 by Columbia Records.
‘Cannonball’ kicks off with striking piano chords, and Michele’s vocals in conjunction, the rich harmony leading us into a high tempo performance. Having watched Glee I was already familiar with her voice, but this is a true sensation, completely uninhibited and sensational, I love her voice and she explodes forward throughout this track very much like the titular ‘Cannonball’. Is an opening track, this has a good balance of energy, performance and emotion to capture you as a listener.
‘On My Way’ proves that although I already loved Michele as a performer, that she has even more depth and range as a vocalist, because I was just blown away. This track, like the previous one, has a great energy and forward drive, and you just get swept up in the melody of it, the balance between soft and slow, and high energy and upbeat.
‘Burn with You’ is the only song I know for sure I’ve heard before sitting down to review this album, and it’s a revelation, Michele is an incredibly strong vocalist, but this is just sensational, the depth and power of this number, and supported by a fairly stripped back, percussive heavy instrumental backing that shows me that even without anywhere to hide vocally she delivers a truly superior performance.
‘Battlefield’ is slower, a piano melody opens up the track, and supports Michele’s vocals which match the melody, just deep and sustained and longing and full of emotion threatening to cascade over. I loved this one, and I think it and ‘Burn with You’ are joint favourites, which is even more impressive considering there is not a weak link on the full album. I loved the rhythm of this, and the chorus has a hook that is now stuck on my head.
‘You’re Mine’ changes things up, still slower, and still backed up by rich piano chords, but this one builds on those with light percussion, and ups the tempo, more energy and just a superb vocal delivery, deep and resonant, that shows off yet another side to her voice. I still think the two preceding tracks are my favourite, but this one is so close as well, and it’s one of the ones I’ve relistened to the most.
‘Thousand Needles’ opens heavier and darker, a sustained percussive beat that blends perfectly with Michele’s frankly angelic tones, and you are just carried away on a wave of melody and passion. I don’t want to keep repeating myself but you have no idea how difficult it was to crown just one (or in this case two) favourites as each track on this is just so good, so overwhelmingly good that I am at a loss.
‘Louder’ is the title track of the album, and so has extra pressure on it to be good, and Michele hasn’t let me down yet, and she does not with this track. After a few slower ones, this one picks things up just a touch, still deep and emotive but with a little more energy and a little more weight to it, courtesy of the percussive beats which support her vocals wonderfully.
‘Cue the Rain’ opens with an electronic percussive beat, and again we see a different side to Michele’s voice, deeper and with a roughness that works really well in this track, especially as she really belts it out throughout the performance. I said before that I’m not sure if I’ve heard any of the others except ‘Burn with Me’ but having listened to this a handful of times during the writing of this review, I’m not uncertain cause I feel like I’ve heard this one before too.
‘Don’t Let Go’ I liked the bass driven intro, which picks up as the energy builds around the track, and things just explode forward. I usually think an artist is better at one or the other, and I have a preference for slower, and sometimes sadder tracks but I genuinely think that Michele is suited to both, and does both well.
‘Empty Handed’ opens with guitars, building slowly, supporting a deep, emotional ballad that serves the album well as we approach the end. I don’t want to belabour the point but God Michele’s voice is just sensational and you fall in love with her a little as she sings. I was expecting this one to remain soft, but the melody picks up, getting deeper and more powerful as the track progresses.
‘If You Say So’ closes things off nicely, piano chords building on top of another separate electronic melody, it’s beautiful and once again the highlight is obviously Michele’s vocals and yet the instrumental backing provides such a sweet and engaging backdrop that it really enriches the whole performance. This is one of those songs that just makes your heart hurt, and it’s rare you find a song that impacts you so viscerally but that’s what we have here as we finish up what has been a truly amazing album.
So that’s what I thought of Lea Michele’s debut album ‘Louder’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, make sure and support Lea Michele by following her on Facebook and Instagram.
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