0.5 stars (out of four)
If Lea Michele is anything like her ambitious “Glee” character, Rachel Berry, this probably ran through her head when she first landed the show: “Yessss! It’s only a matter of time until a Grammy is sitting in my trophy case!” Because Lea Michele definitely has a trophy case.
Nearly five years and so many plaid skirts later, the 27-year-old diva has got herself a solo album. The awards will have to wait: “Louder” is weirdly devoid of any piercing emotion, even though Michele is singing about her late boyfriend and co-star Cory Monteith, who died in July of a drug overdose. She revealed in a recent interview that the album’s closing ballad, “If You Say So,” is dedicated to their final words to each other. That automatically should leave you in tears, right? Here’s part of the chorus: “It’s been seven whole days/Without your embrace/I want to see your face/I got some things to say.” Yeeeeah.
Michele’s trite rhymes are far less stirring than her “Glee” tribute to Monteith, a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” It’s the same with the rest of the poorly written tracks; they made me feel absolutely nothing, except a desire to go listen to Fiona Apple—an artist who actually taps into her emotions in profound, personal ways.
It’s not just that the music on “Louder” is completely without substance. (Plenty of pop albums commit that crime.) It’s that Michele could have distanced herself from her TV image of a high-school Goody Two-Shoes by demonstrating richness and maturity in her voice or removing a few dozen dubstep sirens to give these tracks some personality. Instead, her opportunity to show who she is as an artist doesn’t show much of anything. So when she sings about being in “this blackout state of mind” on “My Way,” I just think about a mascara-stained Rachel Berry puking in some bushes.
Maybe this album would work better live because I’d actually be able to see her as an adult. Still, Michele should probably stick to show tunes, where the lyrics actually match the background music and don’t resemble a watered-down fruit salad of overproduction.