Demi Lovato

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Unbroken Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Breaking into a whirlwind schedule of filming Disney TV movies and touring the world with the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato checked into a treatment facility in the fall of 2010. Denying rumors of substance abuse, their management team confessed that Lovato was being treated for emotional issues that manifested themselves in bulimia and cutting, serious matters that can’t be swept under the rug, so Lovato attempts to clear the air with their post-treatment record, 2011’s Unbroken. Clearly, the title is intended to convey strength, while its lead single, “Skyscraper,” conveys vulnerability, setting a precedent for Lovato specifically addressing their problems on “Fix a Heart,” where they run out of Band-Aids to bind their wounds. All admirable attempts at honesty, yet these confessionals bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Lindsay Lohan’s autobiographical A Little More Personal (Raw), particularly when Lovato concludes the record with “For the Love of a Daughter,” its pained chorus echoing the sentiments of “Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father).” If Unbroken contained nothing but confessions it’d be an odd but possibly effective way to address their troubles. Instead, these stark ballads -- which Lovato doesn’t quite have the pipes to sing without straining -- are paired with half-an-album's worth of songs that act like nothing is wrong in Demi’s world at all, that they can keep partying “All Night Long” and shaking their hips for their only shorty. Ryan Tedder attempts to push them onto the charts while Timbaland knocks off his own production of Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” the frivolity clashing with introspection, the presence of both undermining the substance of either. It’s hard to party knowing Lovato couldn’t quite handle the clubs, while it’s not easy to trust the melancholy flowing through the ballads knowing they're ready to cut loose. One of these personas is an act, the question is which one.

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