So, I’ve never really understood the Demi thing. She is an American pop sensation and that would normally be right up my alley. Perhaps I was a little old for the Disney Channel prime time crew. Having said that I’m loving Amanda Bynes latest work, mainly her tweets. To be fair when I say I’ve never really understood the Demi thing, I mean before this review I would have struggled to name a song but after giving her some attention lately I have discovered that Demi Lovato is awesome and I’m wrapped to be able to say the same of her repackaged edition of her most successful album to date, DEMI (Deluxe). And just in time for Christmas.
The original record was Demi’s fourth studio LP, released in 2013 and debuting at number 3 on the US charts. Boasting the hit singles Heart Attack, Neon Lights and Really Don’t Care the album went on to peak at number 1 on iTunes in over 50 countries around the world. While even Demi herself described her 2011 effort Unbroken as generic, DEMI was about going to a more honest place for the young star, who already seems to have lived 1000 lives. While I appreciate the intention, the shiny, overly perfected bubblegum pop sound to the original record would have only earned 3 stars from me at best. There are some nice moments, but ultimately the record is confused, falling somewhere in the realm of a Mandy Moore, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson mash up. It’s trying a little too hard.
What I like about the re-vamped version are the vulnerable moments and the beautiful imperfections Demi has let us see. The first 13 tracks are the same as its predecessor, but it’s what happens from number 14 onwards that really peaked my interest. Welcome additions are the big hits in Let It Go, Skyscraper and Give Your Heart A Break (which if you haven’t heard performed by Lea Michele and Dean Geyer, do yourself a favour!) Adding these singles has made DEMI (Deluxe) into a sort of mini best-of, perfect for a girl like me who was trying to get to know more from her.
Olly Murs makes an appearance on the track Up, a light and uplifting pop song that is foot-stomping and sweet at the same time. I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me tackles the same content as P!nk’s Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely), while being a little more stripped back – Just hold me, don’t touch me / Stay with me, set me free. But the absolute highlight of this record, and almost the sole reason for my 4 star rating, is Demi’s live cover of Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love. One of three live tracks featured on DEMI (Deluxe), Demi’s version is beautiful, emotional and completely surprising. My biggest critique so far has been her failure to connect, a problem with authenticity perhaps stemming from the production. But here, Demi is left to her own devices, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, a piano and some killer backing vocalists. Her falsetto is breathy and fragile and I appreciated her staying true to the original, which is one of Sheeran’s best. He is a hard man to compete with for emotional connection, but Demi pulls at the heart strings when she lets go of control in the end, her voice soaring and breaking in all the right places. It’s desperate and wonderful and I finally began to get it.
For those of you who are already Lovatics, you are going to love this repackaged record. And for those of you who were like me and didn’t really understand, this is the one that might help you to get it. Side bar, does anyone else think she looks like Rooney Mara on the cover?