During the time of writing—and rewriting—this review, Demi Lovato’s sixth album, Tell Me You Love Me, has just been released. I feel like I have waited in anticipation for so long. And I have: almost two years of waiting for its announcement, then a few months for its release.
Now it’s here—now it’s mine—and I’ve listened to the entirety of it.
And this is what I have to say about it.
The lead single, Sorry Not Sorry, is a fierce and empowering anthem with an upbeat production to complement its daring and unapologetic lyrics: “Now payback is a bad b**ch/And baby, I’m the baddest/You f**king with a savage/Can’t have this, can’t have this/And it’d be nice of me to take it easy on ya, but nah.” The acoustic version included on the deluxe edition manages to retain the same energy and the same fierceness of the original.
Demi slows it down with the title track, Tell Me You Love Me, and this time, she is sorry: “Bad at love; no, I’m not good at this/But I can’t say I’m innocent/Not hardly, but I’m sorry.” I love it’s vulnerability, sincerity, and the more stripped back production compared to Sorry Not Sorry. These sentiments carry onto the power ballad You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore. Her vocals in this beautiful soulful track blow me away. And it’s totally relatable: the old you isn’t work for you anymore.
Sexy Dirty Love speeds things back up again. It’s a fun, upbeat dance track about a sexy, dirty affair: “I feel so alive/You know what I’m thinking of/Got me dreaming bout that/Sexy dirty love.” It’s like a successor to last year’s Body Say. In another fun track, Demi sings about her Daddy Issues. Over the stuttering chorus, she sings: “Forget all the therapy/That I’ve been through/Lucky for you/I got all these daddy issues.” Despite it touching on the personal, it still manages to be so much fun.
A more urban track, Games, plays with some hip hop influences. I enjoyed the rap-like verses. “I date men/ But you’re acting like a little boy and, no, I ain’t your little toy, honey.” A similar track is Instruction, the first deluxe edition track; it’s so fun and bouncy, and Demi sounds so sassy and commanding: “Wine to the left, sway to the right/Drop it down low and take it back high/B**ch, I don’t need introduction/Follow my simple instruction.“
Ruin the Friendship surprised me. While I expected to be about someone who did something—a bad something—to ruin a friendship, it’s actually about wanting to take a friendship to the next level: “You’re body’s looking good tonight/I’m thinking we should cross the line/Let’s ruin the friendship.” Taking a different approach to grab someone’s attention, Only Forever is just so… dreamy. Demi sounds like a total angel in the chorus especially as she sings about waiting for this someone: “I’ve been waiting/ (I’ve been waiting)/ And I’ll keep waiting/ (I’ve been waiting)// Only Forever/ Only Forever/ (x4).”
I love the track Lonely feat. Lil Wayne. And I love the way she vocalises “Lonely” in the chorus. However, I will say that, when I listened to it for the first time, I thought the addition of “f**king” before “Lonely” seemed a bit unnecessary: “But all you do is leave me/F**king lonely.” But after a few more listens, it no longer bothers me anymore.
Cry Baby reminisces a track from her third album Unbroken. It has similar R&B influences in it. Something about the production makes it sound so… fun. Similarly, the track Concentrate gives off that same vibe. Also, there’s something hot about it.
In Hitchhiker, while her lover is the driver, she is the hitchhiker, and she will go anywhere with them: “I don’t really need to know, if my heart is in danger/Cause as long as you’re the driver/I’m your hitchhiker.” Some of the way she vocalises reminds me of JoJo, who I also like.
An acoustic version of Cheat Code’s EDM track No Promises is included as a bonus. While I enjoyed it, the vocals didn’t always mesh with the stripped down production; echoes were present, but it didn’t disrupt the experience. I do wish the original one had been on this album.
Demi admitted that Smokes & Mirrors brought her the most tears while recording it. I can see why: it’s about feeling like someone didn’t really love you: “So tell me/ Did you ever really love me?/ Did you ever really want me?/ Now that I see you clearer/ I wonder/ Was I ever really happy?/ Didn’t get the chance to tell me/ Now that I see you clearer/ Was it just smoke and mirrors?” And the emotion was so heavy in her voice.
And finally, the last track overall: Ready For Ya. In this track, she’s vulnerable again: “I wasn’t ready for ya, ready for ya/ Then you came in like I adore ya, I adore ya/ You caught me comin’ off the back of another mistake/ That was all I could make/ In my immature state.”
The first time I listened to Tell Me You Love Me, I was in awe. Each song that’s included perfectly reflects how much Demi has evolved. The content is, in my opinion, her most mature yet. I will say that I wish the sultry Body Say that she released last year in support of her Future Now tour had been included as a bonus track. But apart from that, she has delivered what she has promised: a more soulful collection of songs that exemplifies her powerful vocals.