Demi Lovato, Tell Me You Love Me | Album Review
Demi Lovato is a beast. Vocally, she has one of the better singing voices in the industry. Artistically, she’s moved past her squeaky-clean Disney persona, unafraid to ‘live on the edge.’ She successfully infuses the aforementioned things into Tell Me You Love Me, a slick, soulful, and at times, unapologetic, sixth studio album.
“Sorry Not Sorry”
“Sorry Not Sorry” kicks off Tell Me You Love Me with a serious bang. This is a slick, urban-pop joint with crossover written all over it. There are pitch-shifted vocals, hard anchoring drums, soulful, gospel-tinged piano, and of course synths. Lovato shows off her chops throughout, soaring to the highest of heights.’ Her best moments come on the chorus, where she’s supported by backing vocals.
Like “Sorry Not Sorry,” “Tell Me You Love Me” features top-notch production work, particularly during the rousing chorus. Next comes the voice, as Lovato delivers another performance filled with high, powerful notes. The verses capture your attention, while the chorus hits you right in chest, face – everywhere. By the time you get to the final iteration, you personally want to tell Demi, “you love her.”
“Sexy Dirty Love”
“Sexy Dirty Love” has two hard acts to follow. As a teaser track, it followed three hard acts. While this solid record still feels a smidge less ‘grand,’ it’s one of the better moments from Tell Me You Love Me. It’s feisty and fun. Follow-up ballad “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore” gives the album another excellent moment. On the verse, Lovato showcases her low register, before ascending to her powerful, cutting, upper register on the chorus. Her best vocal moment arrives on the final chorus of the song, when she nails a high A-flat.
On “Daddy Issues,” perhaps one of the most ‘eyebrow-raising’ songs, Lovato continues to be unapologetic to the nth degree. Interestingly, an early f-bomb is censored, regardless of amended or explicit editions. The chorus is where the eyebrows are raised, lyrically.
“Lucky for you, I got all these daddy issues / What can I do? / I’m going crazy when I’m with you / Forget all the therapy that I’ve been through.”
Does Lovato oversexualize daddy issues? Arguably, but beyond the modern production and sexual tilt, there’s a personal aspect.
“Ruin the Friendship”
“Ruin the Friendship” is also sexual, given the fact that Lovato wants to ‘get closer’ to put it mildly.
“Your body’s looking good tonight / I’m thinking we should cross the line / Let’s ruin the friendship, let’s ruin the friendship.”
Tasteful for the most part, Lovato doesn’t resist the f-bomb this time on the second verse. You can argue it’s for emphasis, but it’s not truly necessary as the message is strong enough without salty language. “Only Forever” is slickly produced, like all of the songs on Tell Me You Love Me. Demi continues to deliver fantastic vocals, showcasing incredible control on the majority of this particular record. She opens up beginning on the bridge, coming into her power by final chorus.
“Lonely” sounds like modern urban contemporary music. It’s quite moody and lethargic in pace. Once more, Lovato makes sure the audience sees she loves the f-word, which is repeated over and over on the chorus. While the profanity is another means to showcase passion and emotion, it’s overkill here. As for Lil Wayne, he’s difficult to decipher sans the lyrics. His vibe fits the bill, but “Lonely” falls short of the glory it could’ve reached.
“Cry Baby” embraces retro-soul, sounding as if it would’ve been at home in the 60s. Lovato delivers a robust, powerful vocal on the chorus, the crowning achievement of “Cry Baby.” Another well-rounded moment from Tell Me You Love Me, it doesn’t quite match the first tier, but is another strong performance. “Games” updates the R&B for the 21st century, yet still revives some 90s cues. Lovato remains feisty, showcasing ‘that attitude,’ which gives “Games” a mean bite.
“Concentrate” serves as the penultimate track on the standard edition of Tell Me You Love Me. The guitar-driven joint ends up being pleasant and soulful. While it has its dynamic moments, the cool nature of the majority of “Concentrate” is indeed cool, as in a selling point. Interestingly, there are clearly perceptible vocals effects throughout the entirety of the record. “Hitchhiker” concludes exceptionally – one of the best. The neo-soul idiom is perfectly captured here, led by a big bass line, soulful guitars, organ, and backing vocals. Another selling point is the chorus.
“I’ve been waitin’ all night, lookin’ for your headlights / I know that we’re strangers, but I’ll leave it all for you / Go anywhere you wanna go / I don’t really need to know, if my heart is in danger / ‘Cause as long as you’re the driver / I’m your hitchhiker.”
The deluxe edition of Tell Me You Love Me adds three more songs, two of which are credited to other artists as the lead. The groovy, tropical “Instruction” features Lovato along with Stefflon Don, while being credited to Jax Jones. A fun record, from the start, it’s obvious why it doesn’t fit the main slate of songs. The other two songs, “Sorry Not Sorry – Acoustic” and “No Promises – Acoustic” (Cheat Codes) are acoustic bonuses, not ‘front and center.’
All in all, Demi Lovato has another enjoyable, well-rounded album with Tell Me You Love Me. The best attribute of the album are the soaring vocals of Lovato. As a vocalist, she gets better and better. There are also some top-notch songs, led by the likes of “Sorry Not Sorry,” “Tell Me You Love Me,” and “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore.” Also, the production work can’t be neglected – da bomb. Maybe the biggest rub is overkill on the profanity, particular the f-word. In most instances, it could’ve been avoided and wouldn’t have affected the quality of the song.
Gems: “Sorry Not Sorry,” “Tell Me You Love Me,” “Sexy Dirty Love,” “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore,” “Ruin the Friendship” & “Hitchhiker”