Review Summary: The Glee star manages to avoid the "awful" label many celebrities receive when doing a music record. Unfortunately, Ms. Rachel Berry isn't able to break out anywhere else to make much of a statement in today's pop charts.
Glee is fortunately coming to a close with Season 6 being the last hurrah for the Fox-based musical, that went on a couple seasons too long. What does this all mean for co-star Lea Michele, the girl who plays Rachel Berry in the TV series? Well, it has given her the opportunity to pursue a solo artist career in which she signed to Columbia Records with her fellow co-star Naya Rivera in early 2013. Unlike Rivera, Michele managed to keep herself afloat on the record label and released her debut record with "Louder" early this year. The big surprise about this particular record is that it actually isn't terrible as you might think it would be, especially coming from someone off a TV show that is musical-based as Glee. While the freshman album isn't bad, it doesn't exactly push her to the point of being a standout singer in the scene of pop and Top 40 artists.
"Louder" is laced with a variety of pop-music styles, ranging from Demi Lovato-inspired pop-rock to the usual dance-pop tunes that have bombarded Top 40 radio. You would've thought that Michele would direct her music towards something more Broadway-influenced, which is what we've seen her do on Glee but she steered clear of doing that which was the right call. Lea's vocals on Glee certainly outshined everyone who sung on the show, and it definitely shows on this album. Her strong and dynamic soprano voice electrifies throughout the album, showcasing her maturity and that she is no longer the teenager we all used to watch on TV. "Fly (Cannonball)" sets the tone for her debut, displaying her fantastic vocals while a graceful and beautiful musical arrangement that draws in similarities to ones done by Celine Dion works in the background. It is definitely empowering and inspiring, which is what Michele was trying to glorify which worked out to her advantage. Other standout tracks include the EDM-pop anthem "Louder", which sees Michele go for a more rhythmic and upbeat sound while continuing to give us her incredible vocals which flow very nicely with the track. Another solid track is "On My Way", another one that sounds much more poppier and EDM-pop based than the majority of the sounds in her record that includes a catchy hook with memorable lyrics like "My heart's too drunk to drive".
The major flaw in "Louder" is how it is caught in a musical-style limbo, stuck between the lines of adult contemporary and sugary/youthful pop music. It is reminiscent of what Canadian pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen did with her sophomore release, which didn't turn out so well. Lea Michele is in her late 20's, wouldn't you expect to see more mature music material than material that make her feel like she is in her late teens? Undoubtedly yes, its just that you don't expect to see an artist who is in her age singing teeny-bopper material which some of it does sound like in the record. Some of the material in the album also definitely sounds dated as some of it crosses the lines between other pop artists like Katy Perry, especially with some of her comtemporary ballads in which Michele's vocals do not gratify any emotion at all. "You're Mine" is an example of that, with Lea's voice so serious that it doesn't even attempt to capture any genuine emotion. The closing track "If You Say So", an ode to her late boyfriend Cory Monteith is delivered in irritating fashion as well, unable to capture any real emotion at all. Lyrically speaking it speaks much of the same, promoting the generic romantic stuff along with strength and empowerment. It would've been better to see Michele bring in more variety on the side of these too-familar subjects, giving us different twists and turns that you wouldn't expect.
"Louder" fortunately managed to escape the "awful" bug that many celebrities manage to garner when they release a debut record. Lea Michele's wide and dynamic soprano voice empowers a good dose of the album, her vocals fitting in quite nicely with fantastic musical arrangements like in "Fly (Cannonball)". She also can provide more up-beat, fun tracks as well like "Louder" which the playful formula works as well. Unfortunately, "Louder" doesn't make much of a statement that would otherwise propel Michele's solo career into anything bigger with the lack of variety in lyrics along with a few tracks that feature sub-par music production. She has also lacked any sort of human emotion in a couple tracks as well, displaying that Michele isn't passionate on whatever song she is singing. Glee fans and Michele fans as well should easily cop this out, but as for those who aren't familiar with her its best to give it a try before purchasing. Lea Michele certainly has the vocals to shine in her music career, but she needs to be able to work out a distinctive and mature flavor into her music to be able to standout among the ever-growing group of rising pop-stars.