“And I just ran out of Band-Aids,” belts Demi Lovato on the swooping ballad, “Fix A Heart”. Naturally, this seems like an understatement for what one of Disney’s most popular teen divas has experienced this past year. With the publicity of Lovato’s struggles with bulimia and self-mutilation piled on top of the departure from the TV hit, Sonny With A Chance, it would seem Lovato would need more than First Aid kit necessities to help her.
Still, the ballad showcases the best –and worst– of her latest album, Unbroken. The most striking element of Lovato’s latest record is the showcasing of her undeniable vocal talent. At only 18-years old, Sonny With A Chance’s has a level of vocal prowess and stamina that fellow Disney queens, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, will probably never achieve. On ballads such as synth choir soaked “Lightweight” and the empowerment anthem of a lead single, “Skyscraper”, Lovato conquers demanding vocal sweeps with a precision that gives credence to producer and One-Republic frontman Ryan Tedder’s praising of Lovato as a “Kelly Clarkson level vocalist”. Although such ballads prove to be only a minority of the record’s contents, they are Lovato’s most poignant moments, suggesting that Lovato may eventually be capable of breaking free from her Disney roots.
The majority of Unbroken, however, still has Lovato chanting along to bubblegum pleasures that sound as limited as that of any artist still under contract by Disney. The, Timbaland and Missy Elliot featuring club-stomper “All Night Long” includes a superb example of the cliche lines that flood the album’s high-paced tunes: “Let’s keep the party going all night long/All night long.” Despite featuring A-list guests, tracks such as “You’re My Only Shorty” (featuring Iyez), the peace rallying of the Jason Derulo duet “Together” and the guilty pleasure “Who’s That Boy” are at moments laughable with their boring cameos and lukewarm pop rhythms.
While Lovato certainly has the stadium crowding vocals of any chart topper today, the poor songwriting and faux assertiveness of Unbroken stifle the potential for a promising record by refusing to let Demi take off the Mickey Mouse ears.