Courtesy of Columbia
Courtesy of Colum

With “Louder,” Lea Michele has released her very first album with Columbia Records as a solo recording artist. Most of her work has been on Broadway and “Glee,” where she was constantly singing covers of popular songs with her castmates. Michele’s soprano voice is big and beautiful, and in her new album she produces a sincere and sentimental work mostly about heartbreak and love. Although Michele’s voice is lovely, her songs lack any personality and do not sound like the chart-topping pop album Michele is trying to make it be.

The album’s single, “Cannonball,” describes Michele flying into the world like a cannonball. Her Broadway vocals are huge, but her voice doesn’t seem exactly ready to be used for pop music. She sings with too much projection, as if she’s singing for a live audience and not a recording studio. The lyrics in the chorus seem forced as she sings, “I got this new beginning and I will fly / I’ll fly like a cannonball.”

“On My Way” is a better pop song than her single. The chorus is catchy and Michele’s vocal range and talent is more prominent as she sings, “I know my heart’s too drunk to drive / But I’m on my way to you.” The song is packed with passion in its beginning soft melodies, then suddenly bursts into stronger vocals and instrumentation before returning to its softer tones.

Michele’s album takes a somber turn with “Battlefield,” a melancholy song about a love coming to an end. She sings, “We both have to let go,” and her metaphor of love as a battlefield works well in the song because of the gentle piano that accompanies her strong vocals — even though the idea isn’t original or new. As she sings, “What seemed like a good idea has turned into a battlefield,” she sounds both nostalgic and sincere in accepting her loss.

Unfortunately, “You’re Mine” has a bland chorus and detached meaning. Supposedly, the song is dedicated to her late love who passed away over the summer of 2013, but there is nothing especially specific or passionate that would identify the song for anyone in general. It’s very blase, and Michele’s voice only sounds sweet in the slower parts of the song rather than the long notes. She simply sings “You’re mine, for life,” and offers no other sentiments of love.

Although Michele’s voice is nearly flawless in all of her songs, she lacks emotion in her love ballads. More passion is heard in her woeful tracks about heartbreak, but the lyrics usually don’t match the resonance and clarity of her voice. As a pop album, it isn’t very successful since any sense of personality is missing from every song. There’s no doubt about Michele’s talented voice, but her focus should definitely be on the lyrics and the story she’s attempting to tell — especially since most of her songs don’t soar as high as her voice, but instead fall flat.

Rating: 2.5 stars