Across the United States at least, there has been a great deal of promotion for this album, and a great deal of attention on Lea Michele. The American media has been monitoring her behaviour quite obsessively since the death of her partner Cory Monteith last July. Having watched Glee (much as that pains me to admit - trust me when I say no one hates Glee more than those who have watched it) I was interested to see what Michele would bring to a solo effort.
I am a huge fan of Lea’s and have always been in love with her voice, but I have to say I do not think this album does her talent justice. It’s a generic pop album, and though I believe Michele when she explains how personal it is to her, it really does not do a good job in displaying her raw natural talent. Her truly incredible vocal seems crammed and pushed into Kelly Clarkson/Katy Perry-esque pop songs and it makes me a little sad.
It’s not all doom and gloom; in all fairness I do have a mild soft spot for early years Kelly Clarkson that Louder reminds me of in places. Lyrically, it is clear that all these songs are highly personal, and Michele’s vocal performance is genuinely brilliant despite feeling a tad forced/overly contained in places. I have a lot of respect for the emotion and effort she has put into this solo venture. Songs like Burn With You, Battlefield and If You Say So are very private and personal in origin; they are also slow and well produced enough that you can begin to appreciate Lea’s voice.
I feel it is the production that perhaps lets this album down. Titular track Louder, whilst catchy enough to have me singing it in the shower, sounds like Katy Perry’s follow up to Firework, and I know that Lea is capable of better. Maybe this is unnecessary criticism; it’s obviously hard to contain a Broadway voice on a pop album.
Regardless of my opinion regarding it’s technical side, the soft spot I have for Lea Michele and the infectious nature of the really annoying beats that I have previously criticised means that I have been listening to this album. Quite a bit. It’s a guilty pleasure, I suppose. Musically it’s not groundbreaking but considering the level of attention that’s been thrown her way over the past year and the hours per week she’s been putting into this album, I can’t help but respect her for the attempt. It’s not awful. It’s just not amazing either.