Everyone loves a comeback kid, and as literally the only Disney star who can carry a tune, let alone sing, Demi Lovato has everyone rooting for her after a long year of personal battles. Her third album, “Unbroken,” isn’t quite perfect, but it’s good enough to satisfy the masses while remaining true to her original sound.
In her first two albums, Lovato tended to favor a “rock-princess” style: the perfect marriage of genres that gave a nod to heavy metal (Lovato is a fan of bands such as Abigail Williams and Job for a Cowboy) while still satisfying the throngs of preteen listeners whose definition of emo is a black Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt.
“Unbroken” shows us Lovato all grown up — a little less pretty princess, a little more out on the town. Lovato makes surprising moves, the first of which is the decision to work with artists outside her usual realm. They jump out in the first track, “All Night Long” featuring Missy Elliott and Timbaland who, with Lovato, make an unexpectedly successful blend of artists. Lovato’s touch remains prominent with the use of a heavy guitar bass line, yet the quick tempo catapults “All Night Long” to the traditional radio-friendly status that defines most of the album.
It’s a curious move because Lovato, who OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder called “one of the best singers I’ve ever worked with,” has a serious set of pipes. With that voice, she probably should have chosen to feature her immense talent a little more in “Unbroken,” which largely consists of ultrapop, upbeat hits.
However, Lovato made an undoubtedly savvy move in constructing an album which conforms to the mainstream sound that has albums flying off the shelves (see also: Perry, Katy). Thanks to the big name collaborations, such as “Who’s That Boy” feat. Dev, “Together” feat. Jason Derlo and “You’re My Only Shorty” feat. Iyaz, “Unbroken” contains at least five potential hit singles that could prop up album sales for a long, long time.
Besides, an entirely weepy album might be expected from a 19-year old fresh out of rehab. Instead, Lovato shows her resilience by combining both heartache and happiness in her lyrics and her beats. For instance, the title track, “Unbroken,” is unexpectedly upbeat while touching on her tumultuous past (“I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been broken“). On her first single, “Skyscraper”, Lovato brings the heat, passionately singing her heart out.
The Disney starlet could have easily drowned in this album, but the effort is largely triumphant, even in its most poignant moments. “Unbroken” is more than enough for Lovato to regain her momentum and find success as an immensely talented and much wiser adult artist.