This is her ‘Stripped.’
Demi Lovato’s sixth studio album Tell Me You Love Me is inspired by what it’s like to be young and single.
In her first new body of music since 2015’s Confident, Lovato explores the ideas of what it’s like to tell a friend that you love them, what it’s like to be a bit messed up and how in the search for love your sexuality can be your solace. Like any typical Demi album that has come before, the singer delves deep into her psyche and exposes her scars, but this time around she seems more self-reflective.
The album’s first single, “Sorry Not Sorry”, is the perfect opener to this body of work. As a message to anyone that’s ever doubted her, the track shows Demi at her most confident. This is an anthem for those that need revenge. Those whose pettiness has driven them to better themselves to show them what their ‘ex’ is missing. The track climbs with the pre-chorus – laden with hand claps and synths any pop star worth their salt would be jealous of, and as the chorus hits it makes the listener want to grab their hairbrush and lip-synch for their life in solidarity with the 25-year-old. As a start to the album, Lovato tells us defiantly that she’s not sorry for being her, and she loves every moment of it, and it sets the perfect precedent for the rest of the album.
The Grammy nominee’s confidence continues to soar as the album goes on. On “Lonely,” Lovato lays her sexuality and self-worth out for all to see. The DJ Mustard-produced track evokes early Mariah with her delivery in the opening few bars. Lovato denounces a lover and how useless they are. The repetitive chorus hits home the idea of how disappointed she is with this lover and how she longs for someone to do what they should. The sparse production with the harsh tone in her voice makes it sound like it’ll be a brilliant song when performed live. On “Cry Baby,” Lovato discusses how much this person has hurt her despite her strength. Add the sexuality, self-worth and awareness of her emotions and a makeup free album cover; this truly is her Stripped.
The promotional track, “You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore,” is an album highlight. The song masquerades as a breakup anthem where she realises that that her lover isn’t who she thought they were. If you dive deeper, the listener begins to understand that this song is an ode to her former self. Here, Lovato finally starts to move on from the girl she used to be that once haunt her presence. The track also includes one of the best vocal deliveries to date from the former X Factor judge. Lovato cleverly conveys herself to be self-reflective on her past, and this kind of honesty is truly beautiful. Especially when compared to the tone her previous work took on her battles with sobriety, like on the 2011 hit “Skyscraper”, where Lovato was indignant in her quest to beat her demons. It seems like she’s finally succeeded.
The album title track, “Tell Me You Love Me,” has an excellent vocal delivery as the “Neon Lights” singer begs for love. The production of the track is sublime as it reaches gospel undertones within the chorus, and the “oooh”‘s of the post-chorus are incredibly catchy. Demi is known for her incredible voice, and this is further seen on “Daddy Issues”. The track is an impeccable masterclass in **** pop production; the stuttering staccato synths of the chorus when coupled with her powerful vocal delivery creates a soundscape that really transports the listener into the world that she’s created for this song. It’s insatiable. “Daddy Issues” details how Lovato is in love, and the love is unrequited, but lucky for him that’s what keeps her interested. It’s a bittersweet nod to the tragic past of her father, but uses it in such a brilliant way that makes the listener relate, laugh and feel ****. It’s a shame the song is so short, and the bleeping out of the expletive also feels out of place for an artist that has never been scared of a profanity- especially when the next track, “Ruin The Friendship” uses the word “****” so freely.
When Demi said this album was about being young and single, she didn’t lie. This album is a perfectly spun concept for what it’s like to be a single 20-something who’s trying to find their way and find love. The pseudo-sensual-R&B style really suits her. Overall, Tell Me You Love Me is Lovato’s strongest album to date, and begins a really exciting new chapter in her career as she has uncovered a musical direction that complements her – one that she can utilise in the future to cement her legacy as one of the most talented pop stars of her generation.
Favourite Lyric: “Your body’s looking good tonight; I’m thinking we should cross the line”
Favourite Songs: Daddy Issues, Only Forever, Games
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars.