Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: Hollywood
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop
Demi Lovato is never shy with her album titles. She shrugged that her second album offered more of the same (Here We Go Again), she bounced back whole from a turbulent spell (Unbroken), then she found a new mature identity (Demi) and, now on her fifth album, she's all about being Confident. Deservedly so, too, because this 2015 album is Lovato's best all-around record since her 2008 debut, Don't Forget.
Demi Lovato's fifth studio LP is the album she was born to make: a brassy, sleek, dynamic pop production that lets her powerful voice soar to new emotional highs. It kicks off with the fast and furious title track, a bright jolt of energy that sounds like a video game in the best way. Her shoulda-been-song-of-the-summer single "Cool for the Summer" remains fresh, fun and sexy; on "Kingdom Come," she takes a luxurious dip in post-"Dark Horse" trap pop, which works brilliantly until guest MC Iggy Azalea's faux-Big Sean flow drowns the song's buzz.
Former Disney star Demi Lovato is in possession of pop’s rarest commodity – a personality – but it’s not always showcased by her occasionally overwrought sound. Confident’s excellent lead single, the sapphic Cool for the Summer, finally unleashes her fun side, but nothing else here matches it for cheeky insouciance. So while the title track’s self-help glam rock is strangely intoxicating, and Yes and the lovely Lionheart are sturdy enough to handle the vocal showboating, there are too few surprises.
When Demi Lovato sings “you’ve had me underrated” on this album’s opening song, it’s not hard to work out where she’s coming from. Though ‘Confident’ is the fifth album she’s released since 2008, until now this 23-year-old former child actor – whose CV includes US kids’ series Barney & Friends and the Jonas Brothers’ cheesy Camp Rock films – hasn’t fully managed to shake off her cheesy Disney beginnings. Her 2013 album ‘Demi’ was actually pretty decent and spawned the UK Top Three hit ‘Heart Attack’, but this record’s first two tracks (and singles) finally establish Lovato as a serious contender.
Demi Lovato is the second former Disney star in a week to release an autobiographical album, but Confident is a good deal starker than Selena Gomez’s Revival. Lovato has the voice and the backstory to ensure that her fifth album is often compelling: a teenage stint in rehab may be behind her, but – perversely for an album called Confident – her fragility surfaces more than once. While some of tracks abound with self-assurance that would do credit to Miley Cyrus, others show the uncertainty underlying the big-voiced swagger, and it’s these flaws that make the album.
If “Cool for the Summer” is Demi Lovato's “I Kissed a Girl,” one—albeit baby—step closer to authentically capturing the trepidation and thrill of questioning one's sexuality than the glib Katy Perry song did, then the singer's follow-up, the bold and brassy “Confident,” is what Perry's meek “Roar” promised to be. Punctuated by perpetual finger-snaps and sustained horn blasts, the track boasts a message of self-empowerment that actually matches its robust production. Lovato and her fans might be tired of the comparisons, but it doesn't help that the former Disney star's belting range is strikingly similar to Perry's, and that both “Cool for the Summer” and “Confident” were produced by Max Martin, the man behind some of Perry's biggest hits.
Watching Demi Lovato slowly but surely wrest control of her career away from the Disney machine has been a joy to behold. After her 2008 debut, the Jonas Brothers-dominated Don’t Forget, each subsequent album has found her pushing more of her personal musical agenda and preferences, whether it was writing songs with John Mayer on 2009’s Here We Go Again, addressing her complicated relationship with her father on 2011 album Unbroken’s “For The Love Of A Daughter,” or turning to more sophisticated synth-pop sounds on 2013’s Demi. Confident is an even greater step forward for Lovato, starting with the fact that it’s her first full-length released via Safehouse Records, the label she co-founded with fellow tween-pop refugee Nick Jonas.