Review Summary: Way better than Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez.
Albums released after rehab stints or any significant events in an artist's life, good or bad, are seen with different eyes. There's rarely no mention of that event through at least a song, sometimes even becoming some sort of indirect marketing (see Rihanna's domestic violence case). Last year, Demi's check in rehab for emotional issues and eating disorder put her under a rather bad light, but instead of going downhill (see Miley Cyrus), she got back on track and the stint prompted her to work on her music more, giving up acting for a while. The result is her best album yet, most of the songs having more meaning and are sung with more passion than what you would normally find nowadays on most mainstream pop records.
'Unbroken' has a bit of everything, ranging from slow, emotional ballads to club fillers. Unfortunately, it starts with the least interesting songs, all designed to be singles, devoid of any depth. All of them featuring some guests from the high profile Timbaland and Missy Elliot, to the newcomer Dev and Jason Derulo. "All Night Long" and "Who's That Boy" are catchy enough but they don't suit her as much as her peers. She always had a penchant for sweet pop tunes and ballads, not mindless club fillers. So after a full album stream, the listener will only find out how these songs are just random mainstream radio songs dragging the album down. However, songs like "Unbroken" and "Hold Up" are fun and give a new twist (a progress) to her signature pop roots, being a bit edgier. There's a clear difference between these and the pop rock numbers from her last effort, 'Here We Go Again'. These should be released instead, not the songs mentioned above, which will most likely be singles.
The album gets better from the fifth track, "Lightweight", a nice ballad about how a lover needs to take it easy on her, because she is sensitive and fragile. The instrumental mimics an orchestral arrangement but her voice brings the song to life. If there were actual instruments used, the song could've been even more powerful.
"Fix A Heart" stands out as one of the best songs here with minimal drumming, a lovely piano and Demi's more delicate voice on top, never going full power, only for the chorus. On the majority of the tracks she sings her lungs out, so this one is more of a break from all those. On contrast, the powerful first single, "Skyscraper", which describes her emotional issues and how she managed to move on and recover, shows her amazing voice building up throughout the song, with a subtle melody behind her bursting out at the end. Being sung with such sincerity the song easily strikes a chord with any listener.
Arguably the best tune here is "For the Love Of A Daughter", a song about her relationship with her alcoholic father who didn't seem to see her as a good enough reason to stop drinking and be there for her when she needed him. Demi again sings with so much sincerity and passion that she really gives the song life and meaning. This is her best song yet and a great closer to this heartfelt album.
What may be tiring however, is the fact that she sings the hell out of almost all songs here. This goes well with the slow and emotional tracks, but sometimes on the upbeat ones Demi sounds like she is trying too hard.
'Unbroken' is her best effort yet. Ignoring the first 4 songs, it's a great album, filled with songs that have meaning and more important, are better than the a lot of the mainstream crap. The ballads on this album, many for a pop record, push forward further expectations from her and really showcase her strengths. This way, she steps up above all her peers and even a lot of contemporary pop stars. 'Unbroken' has enough for her usual audience, but also for a more mature one, to which she aims for.
Highlights - "For The Love Of A Daughter", "Fix A Heart", "Unbroken", "Skyscraper"