Demi Lovato has a fan base that has followed her from her days on the Disney Channel. But Lovato is on her sixth studio album, “Tell Me You Love Me,” and has little to no trace of her past self.
She is an adult woman, singing about relationships on every single track, with all the tones of adulthood: Sex (lots of it), the vulnerability of needing someone and how good moving on feels. But the past version of Lovato seemed to be a lot more individualistic, and the Lovato on this album seemed to be trying to assert her adulthood at the expense of her uniqueness. Maybe this is the version of Lovato that is confident and relationship-focused.
While my favorite songs were “Cry Baby” and “Daddy Issues,” there are no bad songs on this album. I feel like we have heard Lovato sing better, but this album was created to be a hit machine, and it succeeds.
That’s what I think is wrong with “Tell Me You Love Me.” Almost all the songs are hits, and could have been written for and sung by anyone. In all likelihood, Lovato relates to the lyrics in these songs, as most people could, since pop songs are meant to be relatable, but there’s no song on the album that feels uniquely Lovato. On previous albums we’ve heard songs like “La La Land,” about her moving to LA and still being herself, and “Skyscraper”, about her issues, written right before she entered treatment in 2010.
She does slip pieces of her personality into the album: Her confidence, especially to express her wants and obsessiveness in a relationship. She openly admits that she needs to be with someone on song “Tell Me You Love Me” when she declares: “You ain’t nobody till you got somebody.” But these sentiments just don’t feel unique to me.
There’s no denying that Lovato is an incredible singer and that every single track on this album is pop perfection, but the tiny addition of a R&B vibe isn’t enough to make this album among the best of the year. Also, many of these tracks are songs about sex—“Ruin the Friendship,” “Sexy Dirty Love,” “Daddy Issues,” “Concentrate” and “Hitchhiker”—but Lovato’s voice is more suited for triumphant, roaring, ballads rather than for something soft and slow.
In the end, “Tell Me You Love Me” was good but left something to be desired. With such strong personality, vocals and experiences, Lovato can stand out among the pop divas of today.
While she planted herself as a contender, there’s so much more that other pop singers are doing that Lovato doesn’t make it to the top.
Album: “Tell Me You Love Me”
Artist: Demi Lovato
Release: Sept. 29
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars