On Demi Lovato’s debut solo album “Don’t Forget”, the first line of the first song of the album was “I am confident”. Seven years, a stint in rehab, and a nude Vanity Fair photoshoot later, she revisits the same mentality from an entirely new perspective on her fifth album “Confident”.
Although Lovato channeled a young love for metal into some of her early work, she has steadily moved towards R&B and pop. This comes from a musically curious perspective and not a sellout option, but it takes some focus off her unique style. On this album, songs like “Old Ways” and “For You”, despite (or because of) the heavy assault of studio effects, are largely unoriginal.
The two singles, however, were a good choice: radio-ready but still interesting. “Confident” lives up to its name with its blaring intro and easy, snappy chorus. Although the breathy, sexy bi-curious anthem “Cool for the Summer” trivializes lesbianism in the same way Katy Perry does, it’s still infinitely more enjoyable than “I Kissed A Girl”.
But it’s ballads where Lovato shines the brightest. With less studio magic, she carries her own, as she’s always done. Despite the album title, she sounds amazing when she’s vulnerable or heartbroken; on “Wildfire” she begs an unidentified lover: “Play me like your first guitar/Where every single note’s too hard”. Most minimal are “Stone Cold” and “Father”, the simplest and most emotionally charged tracks.
“Father” is a deeply intimate and hesitantly grateful reflection on her (recently-deceased) father’s departure from her life after a divorce split her parents when she was young. Torn by emotion, she sings “You did your best but did you?/Sometimes I think I hate you/I’m sorry dad for feeling this/I can’t believe I’m saying it.”
“Stone Cold” is a gut-wrenching unrequited love song which rivals Adele for the top spot in a crying-into-your-pillow playlist. Weary yet powerful, Lovato’s voice belts through meek, quivering verses and a bluesey powerhouse chorus.
Although a little erratic in terms of mood, “Confident” highlights Lovato’s songwriting and vocal power, qualities which once distinguished her from other ex-Disney stars foraying into music and which she’s now learning to use to their full potential.