There should be a formula for Disney stars turned wannabe hit makers and chart-topping artists. Unlike her predecessors Hillary Duff and Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato has crafted an interesting and impressive set with Unbroken that makes a creative statement while not alienating her loyal, Disney fan base.
Unbroken is the perfect journey for a 19-year-old girl who's been drug across the coals and is still trying to find her way in a world clogged with too much emphasis on sex appeal and very little on talent. Lovato, however, breaks the mold set by current pop divas Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry to shift the musical landscape into heartfelt and sincere songs that simply cater to the theatrical crowd.
The first four tracks are mostly star-studded affairs that offer little to an album that would have benefited more with their omission, but they are what help establish her journey. Also, these four tracks — "All Night Long," "Who's That Boy," "You're My Shorty," and "Together" — are what will satisfy her built-in fan base.
With the next track comes the album's first tear-jerking moment, "Lightweight," and there is almost an audible, crunching shift in its tone from dance-club-ready jams to gut-wrenching and emotional performances. "I'm a lightweight, easy to fall, easy to break, with every move my world shakes," Lovato cries in the chorus. Her emotional delivery here soaks through from a place of absolute pleading. As a highlight of Unbroken, "Lightweight," would have been the perfect album opener, though its place in the set makes it a delightful surprise.
Taking a cue from Britney Spears' Femme Fatale, "Unbroken," the title track, has a cleverly delicious keyboard and electric backing. "I'm gonna love you like I've never been broken," Lovato sings. Even though a brittle dance beat supports her vocals, the emotional energy punctures its way into the ear drums. A fist-pumping anthem, its lyrics are heavy and meaningful, surging through the veins. This track, in all its synthesized glory, fittingly sets up the piano-driven gem, "Fix a Heart," which is a desperate however heartfelt plea of sorts. "I try to sever ties and I ended up with wounds to bind like you're pouring salt in my cuts," she swoons on the first verse. Lovato's pain runs so deep that this soul-baring song feels like a punch in the gut. If she's learned one thing this past year, it's how to be brutally and often painfully honest.