Lea Michele: the actress and singer who became famous as Rachel Berry in Glee in 2008, and for her work on Broadway has just released her sophomore album, Places, an album that Michele is particularly proud of as she claims to have finally found her style.
Her debut album Louder came out in 2014 after the death of Cory Monteith, and includes heart-wrenching ballads about him, as well as catchy pop songs that showed off her talent as a singer and songwriter, a talent that has matured and progressed on her second album.
Lea Michele started recording Places in 2015, just a year after her debut album. She co-wrote all the songs and really focused on creating a more theatrical album that fit her personality and her history, with less of a Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson’s influence and more of Lea Michele’s true self.
“Love Is Alive” is the first song the album, and the single released on March 3. It is a sombre sound, with Lea Michele’s powerful vocals taking the spot, while the piano and violins set the tone for the rest of the album. It seems as acoustic songs have become Michele’s style. “Love is Alive” is a song about believing in love and being happy, and it mostly highlights Lea Michele’s vocal ability and Broadway experience comes shining through the high and perfectly carried vocals.
“Proud” shows once again, the consistent style of the album, with the piano and her voice delivering the emotions of talking your parents. This song is about family, and Michele delivers the feeling of love and emotions about being supported through the hard times.
In the second verse, background vocals join in to give a new layer of emotions. The strength of her voice gives goosebumps, even though the songs start to blend into each other as the sounds and melody are so similar. There is no breakthrough song that really catches the attention till the last song.
“Hey You” is the most anticipated song from this album, as it is the follow-up for “If You Say So”, the heartbreaking song about Cory Monteith’s death from her first album. Although “If You Say So” was full of hurt and sadness because of his death, “Hey You” is a song about getting over heartbreak and moving on from someone’s death.
She is talking to him, it is not a sad song but it is about joy, being alive after a person you love is gone. The line “I love you more, I said so” is the perfect ending to this tribute and a killer way to finish this album that fell a bit flat in this high notes feast.
“Hey You” shows Michele’s ability to make you cry with a snap of her fingers, and her strength in showing her emotions within her singing. Her voice really carries her emotions, and the roughness of this song at the end makes it the best song to talk about and really care for.
Places shows off Lea Michele’s incredible vocals, as there is use of synths and other aesthetics only in one song. The album is made to show deeper lyrics and wider voice range, as it always uses the same formula of high notes, a guitar and a piano as a melody.
Louder had a range of songs, from pop to melancholic ballad that was quite catchy, and while this is not the case with Places, it is a definitely more mature album that shows her growth as an independent singer shining away from the Glee world.
Lea Michele is great at making people hear the emotions in her voice, however, this album is a bit of a disappointment, with songs matching each other and sounding too similar for that one song to really stand apart from the rest. If you love theatre, this is the album for you. If you except a repetition of Louder with more upbeat songs such as “On My Way” and stronger songs like “Battlefield”, then this album might be a disappointment.
Nonetheless, this album doesn’t lessen Lea Michele’s incredible abilities both as a singer and as a songwriter and will open her fan base to people that care more about lyrics and vocals rather than a pop, catchy beat. Lea Michele’s Places is out now via Columbia Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Martina Di Gregorio