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Demi Lovato, ‘Demi’ – Album Review

Demi Lovato
Hollywood Records

Demi Lovato has come a long way from her Disney days, in which she was and remains the best belter of the Mouse House’s alumni. She’s been to rehab (and still lives there), she’s been touring, she’s been an ‘X Factor‘ judge — and the whole time, she’s been real, honest and open.

Sonically, ‘Demi’ isn’t necessarily breaking new ground, but it does expand outside of Lovato’s comfort zone a bit — and it shows. When she dips her toes into EDM, it can come off as forced. Perhaps that’s also because on certain tracks, ‘Demi’ also channels earlier Lovato efforts that had more of a pop-punk feel.

In terms of themes, while ‘Unbroken’ was a testament to her resilience in the face of adversity and dealing with lots of issues many can’t even fathom, from self-harm to bi-polar disorder to bulimia to drugs to media scrutiny of it all, ‘Demi’ combines the same honesty with a bit more romance and pep in the singer’s step. She feels good now, and she wants you to know it — but also to be aware that feeling good is a concentrated effort in and of itself.

And when Lovato feels good — and even when she feels awful — she sounds fantastic.

1. ‘Heart Attack’
Lovato’s lead single tells about how she’s tough on the outside — because she’s a big ol’ softie on the inside who’s scared of being hurt. Her voice carries the Nikki Williams-penned tune, which has a Kelly Clarkson-like feel, and she sells it. [Watch the Video]

2. ‘Made in the USA’
If the rumor is true, Lovato’s supposed second single from ‘Demi’ will drop just in time for Memorial Day and July 4th barbecue season. It’s an ingeniously crafted and calculated summer song. [Listen Here]

3. ‘Without the Love’
What is a love song without the love?” Lovato pleads in a heartbroken midtempo ballad to a guy who doesn’t treat her well and “tries to take her home like he’s DiMaggio.” Most of her fans don’t know who DiMaggio is, but we’re guessing “Derek Jeter” didn’t flow as well lyrically. [Listen Here]

4. ‘Neon Lights’
The music in ‘Neon Lights’ sounds awfully similar to Nicki Minaj‘s ‘Starships,’ something inadvertently referenced within the song itself: “We’ll be shooting starships passing by,” Lovato belts. “You’ll be coming home with me tonight / And we’ll be burning out like neon lights.” It’s the obligatory EDM-inspired track that every modern pop album feels like it needs, and it’s by no means a bad song — but it sounds out of place on ‘Demi,’ which is otherwise rife with more organic sounds. [Listen Here]

5. ‘Two Pieces’
In ‘Two Pieces,’ Lovato describes a romance with hints of the struggles she’s faced elsewhere in her personal life, singing, “We’re only lost children trying to find a friend / Trying to find our way back home.” It’s a midtempo, piano-heavy love song — in which she’s happy. It’s refreshing! [Listen Here]

6. ‘Nightingale’
Lovato has previously said she believes her power ballad ‘Nightingale’ will be a favorite with her Lovatics, and it’s clear that the song means a lot to her. Lyrically, the song is a cry for help from a savior, but who that is remains up for interpretation: “I need a star to follow / I don’t know / I never see the forest or the trees / I could really use your melody / Maybe I’m a little blind / I think it’s time for you to find me / Can you be my nightingale? / Sing to me / I know you’re there / You could be my sanity / Bring me peace / Sing me to sleep / Say you’ll be my nightingale.” For Lovato, it may be a spiritual calling, but chances are for her fans, she’s the Messiah in song herself. It’s a tall order, but if anyone can deliver, it’s her. [Listen Here]

7. ‘In Case’
Lovato follows ‘Nightingale’ with a piano ballad on ‘In Case,’ telling a lover, “In case you don’t find what you’re looking for / In case you’re missing what you had before / In case you change your mind / I’ll be waiting here / In case you just want to come home.” It’s heartwrenching and a nice peek at the vulnerable side of the strong songstress … But don’t expect her to stay sad for long. [Listen Here]

8. ‘Really Don’t Care’ Feat. Cher Lloyd
Pop perfection and defiance follow the heartbreak of ‘In Case,’ letting Lovatics and listeners know she won’t be crying over some jerk forever. Cher Lloyd is a fun addition, but it’s clear that Lovato is the star of this show, spitting, “Now if we meet out on the street I won’t be running scared / I’ll walk right up to you and put one finger in the air.” Atta girl! [Listen Here]

9. ‘Fire Starter’
‘Fire Starter’ is another EDM-inspired track, but this one works a little bit better thematically than ‘Neon Lights.’ Lovato sings of her prowess, telling a paramour, “I’m a bada– jumping off the moving train / I’m a Jane Bond, putting all them guys to shame / I’m a wild card, and I’m gonna steal your game.” Sounds about right to us! [Listen Here]

10. ‘Something That We’re Not’
Stereotypically, it’s the girl who gets too attached in friends-with-benefits situations, but not Demz. “You wanna be more than just friends / I can’t go through this again / Stop trying to get inside my head / Don’t wanna do more than hook up / It’s getting stupid ’cause / I should have known but I forgot / That You think we’re something that we’re not.” The song has a very Paramore-type vibe, down to the “ba-da-ba-da” refrain, and it’s a style that works for Lovato and calls back to her self-titled, ‘Here We Go Again’ and ‘Don’t Forget’ days. [Listen Here]

11. ‘Never Been Hurt’
‘Never Been Hurt’ is power pop with synths, but like ‘Fire Starter,’ it blends into ‘Demi’ more seamlessly than ‘Neon Lights.’ The melody and vocal runs Lovato pairs with the production lets the love song soar on lines like, “Run through fire for you / Like I’ve never been burned.” [Listen Here]

12. ‘Shouldn’t Come Back’
Following the uptempo ‘Never Been Hurt’ is lovelorn ballad ‘Shouldn’t Come Back,’ in which Lovato, her voice nearly breaking with emotion at times, tells a lover who hurts her that they’re better off apart … Even though they can’t seem to quit one another. The heartbreak in her voice may bring a tear to your eye when she laments, “Tired of being so sad.” Especially, you know, if you have a soul. [Listen Here]

13. ‘Warrior’
As the rest of ‘Demi’ has shown, just when you think Lovato’s down, she’s not out. Preceded by the wistful ‘Shouldn’t Come Back,’ ‘Warrior’ has Lovato fighting back in ballad form: “Now I’m a warrior / Now I’ve got thicker skin / I’m a warrior / I’m stronger than I’ve ever been / And my armor is made of steel / You can never get in / I’m a warrior / And you can never hurt me again.” It’s ‘Skyscraper’ part deux, but with softer production and stronger melodies. [Listen Here]

Watch the Demi Lovato ‘Heart Attack’ Video

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