Demi Lovato is on the right track with latest album
OK, OK, I admit I might have been a little too harsh on Demi Lovato lately. When she dropped her one-off single ‘Body Say’ last year, I might have created unrealistic expectations for her new music. The sensuality and absolute control over her vocals which she used in a more understated manner, got me excited, but on first listen her latest singles ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ and ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ sounded disappointing. I now see that I might have dismissed them a bit too quickly. Luckily I now have a chance to set the record straight! This is A Bit of Pop Music’s track by track guide to Demi Lovato’s sixth album, Tell Me You Love Me.
01. Sorry Not Sorry
In my initial single review on ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ I criticized the shouty vocals and while I still think this sounds like 2014 Jessie J, I have to hand it to Demi. The track went top 10 or at least top 20 in most countries around the world and as an album opener, the ballsy attitude and loud production actually kind of works. Of course this is nowhere near as good as ‘Cool For The Summer’, but it might not be as bad a comeback as I made it out to be. Oops!
02. Tell Me You Love Me
I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself here, but again, in context of the album ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ sounds a lot better than what I wrote when the single dropped. Yes, the structure is quite unusual, but that bombastic hand clap chorus is actually kind of brilliant and certainly needs the vocal power that Lovato delivers here. I still find the ‘you ain’t nobody til you love somebody’ line slightly problematic, but I can’t stop myself from wanting to sing the chorus along so I will give her a pass this time.
03. Sexy Dirty Love
Demi Lovato albums are known to be quite the pleasant balance between big ballads and pure uptempo pop and the latter is served on ‘Sexy Dirty Love’. The track has a nice late 90s early noughties vibe going on. I am not entirely sure if it would work as a single, but as album track it certainly spices up the bunch a little.
04. You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore
Frequent readers of this blog might have noticed that I’m not a big fan of Demi’s tendency to oversing. Sometimes her big vocals work, as proven by ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ which grew on me, but ‘You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore’ takes it even further. The track has a nice soulful chorus, but it is hard to enjoy that with those intense vocal acrobatics going on. Of course she is insanely talented and I am sure she would hit all those nights in a live setting as well, but I just find it border on unlistenable.
05. Daddy Issues
Oh my God! This song deserves an award just for the title alone. It helps that the production by Oak Felder and Zaire Koalo is absolutely flawless. Those synths in the chorus are to die for. Of course, lyrically this does not disappoint. “Lucky for you, I got all those daddy issues” sounds like it will inspire quite a few profile texts on Grindr! Joking aside, this is a bop and a half and could mean a hit if released as next single. I am sure Demi and her team have a few ideas for a music video as well!
06. Ruin The Friendship
Yaasss Demi! This is what I’m talking about when I’m writing that she is able to pull off more subdued vocals. She sounds smooth, sultry and seductive, exactly what this slow burning jam about turning a friendship into a hot night (or more than one) needs. That little trumpet in the post chorus is a cute touch. Definitely one of the albums highlights!
07. Only Forever
Oh and here we have Demi casually proving she has got the art of the sensual ballad down. The higher register of her voice beautifully soars over the deep beats. She flirts with R&B and hiphop here and it works. The repetition in the chorus is in no way distracting and even the belting in the last chorus is somehow subdued. I feel bad for ever doubting Queen Demetria!
08. Lonely (feat. Lil Wayne)
Of course no record by one of the big pop girls is complete without the feature of a rapper these days. Lil Wayne adds a little verse to ‘Lonely’ which can’t really save this track from falling flat. The chorus goes nowhere and the swear words seem a bit forced. One of the few duds on Tell Me You Love Me.
09. Cry Baby
‘Cry Baby’ is the proud owner of one of the best choruses on the record, both lyrically and melodically. It is big and vivacious with a feisty yet fragile vibe. “Congratulations, celebration, ’cause my heart is the hardest to break. Break up to make up just to wake up with mascara all over my face. And I’m no cry baby, but you make me cry lately.” You tell ’em Demi!
Is this Lovato’s very own take on Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’? The production in the verses sounds vagely similar. ‘Games’ is a urban inspired pop song with a thick beat and swinging chorus, but definitely not one of the more memorable tunes on Tell Me You Love Me.
It is no secret that Demi’s music has become more sexual in recent years with steamy hits like ‘Body Say’ and ‘Cool For The Summer’, but ‘Concentrate’ is almost Beyoncé’s ‘Rocket’ levels of pop porn! The lyrics are quite explicit to say the least. “Make music when you’re moanin'”, “sheets are all soaking wet”, “lock me down like I’m your slave”, Demi girl, you ain’t holding back! This totally works as a bedroom anthem I suppose!
The perfect album closer! A laidback and soulful guitar pop song with a chorus in the right place and easily one of Demi’s best vocal performances on the record. Demi co-wrote almost all the songs on here and ‘Hitchhiker’ is one of the songs she can be most proud of!
Is Tell Me You Love Me a step in the right direction for Demi Lovato? Definitely. It is not a flawless album, but easily more cohesive than its predecessors. Demi seems to have found a sound that suits her, instead of just chasing whatever trend there is. She seems to be more conscious of her vocals powers, both subdued and bombastic and more at ease with the whole pop star thing. Tell Me You Love Me is not a perfect pop album, but an important one in Demi Lovato’s growth as an artist.