Many celebrities may feel the pressure that comes with taking on a new project intimately tied to their personal lives. For “Glee” star Lea Michele, waves of media attention have crashed down on her debut album, “Louder,” because of its association with the death of Michele’s boyfriend of two years and co-star, Cory Monteith, this past summer.
Though unfair to expect someone to speak so openly about private matters, it’s easy to identify the interwoven themes of death and regret from her media-saturated period of mourning. The track “On My Way” blusters like a gust of wind into the forefront with its loud pop-rock chorus and proclamations that “my heart’s too drunk to drive/ but I’m on my way to you.” Even at the album’s beginning, Monteith’s memory lingers, giving audiences the voyeuristic feeling of watching someone’s personal recollection of a lost love.
The production, helmed by Kuk Harrell, includes militaristic drum beats, crisp pianos and over-engineered orchestral sweeps. While this cheesy arrangement would work against nearly every one of her contemporaries, Michele’s Broadway-seasoned pipes shine with the lush backdrop to showcase her impressive range, clarity and emotive capabilities.
Vocal chops in tow, Michele leads the listener through a complex web of emotions. Pop vocalist and “Titanium” singer Sia Furler lends lyrics to the acoustic piano ballad “Battlefield,” which discusses two partners’ fears of ending a relationship that is simply not working out. “If You Say So,” co-written by Furler, is a chilling track named after the last words Michele says Monteith ever said to her. In this closing track, fans are not offered a message about closure or moving on from sadness. Instead, it’s a profoundly genuine sentiment about how the death of a partner can feel like betrayal and abandonment.
Intentional or not, Monteith’s memory can be found scattered all across Michele’s brazen and unmistakably original debut. In its sunny highlights, it tells of the exhilarating rush of new love, and in its darkest depths, “Louder” discusses how no one can ever have all of the answers when a loved one dies. While some may say this envelops the album with an uncomfortable aura, it is Michele’s brave stab at dealing with these messy emotions that makes her messages ring out that much “Louder.”