When Demi Lovato sings “you’ve had me underrated” for this album’s opening song, it is easy to work out where she’s received from. Though ‘Confident’ would be the fifth album she’s released since 2008, until recently this 23-year-old former child actor – whose CV includes US kids’ series Barney & Friends along with the Jonas Brothers’ cheesy Camp Rock films – hasn’t fully been able to shake off her cheesy Disney beginnings.
Her 2013 album ‘Demi‘ was really pretty decent and spawned the UK Top Three hit ‘Heart Attack’, but this record’s initial couple of tracks (and singles) finally establish Lovato being a serious contender. Title tune ‘Confident’ fuses hip-hop horns and Joan Jett beats and contains her bragging “it’s information about me tonight”, while ‘Cool For The Summer’ can be a massive EDM-tinged-tinged pop banger with lyrics hinting with an exploratory same-sex tryst. “Don’t panic ’cause I’m the body type”, Lovato purrs for the chorus before whispering suggestively, “Don’t educate your mother!”.
Nothing else on ‘Confident’ is pretty as much fun, but Lovato’s intensity never wavers since the album alternates between trap-influenced midtempo tracks such as the Iggy Azalea-assisted ‘Kingdom Come’ and bombastic power ballads that report off her mighty vocals. ‘Lionheart’ sounds just as if it belongs within an ’80s action movie, while ‘For You’ is really brilliantly overblown commemorate Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ seem restrained. Throughout, Lovato’s largely self-written lyrics (nobody else writes them?) match the musical bluster. “Fuck my behaviors, don’t work like you got none” she tells the haters on ‘Waitin’ For You’, a swaggering collaboration with Skrillex-endorsed rapper Sirah.
It’s powerful stuff, especially at a singer who may have bravely spoken out about her past struggles with depression, substance abuse abuse along with an eating disorder, but ultimately ‘Confident’ feels a tad relentless. Even closer ‘Father’, a lyrically raw and initially stripped down ode to Lovato’s late father, who died of cancer in 2013, ends using a full-scale gospel choir finale. But despite its complete absence of subtlety, ‘Confident’ hints there’s more to Demi Lovato than her unfortunate recent comments about crockery.