The new album by former Disney princess and X Factor U.S. judge, Demi Lovato is her first since completing rehab for 'physical and emotional issues' Still, it is not the ballad filled, angst ridden tell all that you might expect from a young artist who pulls no punches when speaking about her on-going struggle with mental health issues. Shocker- this really is an upbeat pop album. The sound here is predictable with a mixture of fluffy, radio friendly pop and dance floor driven production. 'Made In The USA' evokes pop puppets like Miley Cyrus, while 'Something That Were Not' could easily be a Taylor Swift single. The impetuous 'Really Don't Care' featuring Cher Lloyd sounds suspiciously like One Direction. If you haven't guessed by now, yes this is derivative, assembly line pop.
Redemption comes in the form of the opener, 'Heart Attack', which features soaring dramatic vocals and lyrics filled with 'girl-power' attitude. Regardless of the album's unimaginative production, Lovato can still out-sing most of her peers but those signature belting vocals are both a blessing and a curse. At times her habit of singing in her upper register becomes grating. On 'Without The Love' the chorus is just plain screechy and begging for a key change that is more pleasing to the ear.
When Demi does choose to reign in those powerful pipes, she creates some tender, even beautiful moments. Piano ballad, 'Nightingale' is more subtle but yet still memorable with an anthemic, swelling hook just perfect for a future X Factor performance, cue the wind machine and smoke filled stage right now. 'Warrior' however, feels like a continuation of 'sky scraper,' the single from her 2011 album, 'Unbroken', which gained Lovato the adoration of countless confused, insecure teenage girls. “I'm a survivor in more ways then you know” she sings with a palpable vulnerability. This exceptional personal confession rounds off an otherwise safe, banal pop record.
Review by Karen Lawler | Rating: Two Stars