Everyone knows Demi Lovato can sing, but with her upcoming sixth studio album, the 25-year-old will prove to listeners that she can sang. “I wanted to make sure that this album showcased my voice,” says Lovato, who’ll release Tell Me You Love Me on Sept. 29. And if you couldn’t already tell from the album’s sassy belt-athon of a first single, “Sorry Not Sorry,” songs like the gospel-tinged title track and the funky “Sexy Dirty Love” will cement Lovato’s status as one of her generation’s most powerful vocalists.
Instead of rushing to follow up 2015’s Confident, Lovato took a year and a half to pursue a more soulful sound with a new batch of producers, including Warren “Oak” Felder (Kehlani, Alessia Cara) and John Hill (Phantogram, Santigold). “Growing up on the Disney Channel,” she says, “we cranked out an album every year for three years, so this time around I took as much time as I needed.”
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And with a new sound — “I think what’ll surprise fans the most for this new album is how R&B I’m going,” she says — comes new subject matter. The singer, who split from actor Wilmer Valderrama in June of 2016 after a six-year relationship, says she’s getting real about her love life in unprecedented ways. “I have never really been so honest,” Lovato says. “You can just hear it through the lyrics. I think my fans are gonna know exactly who I’m talking about.”
Tell Me You Love Me isn’t the only project Lovato has in the works this fall. On Oct. 12 she’ll release the feature-length YouTube documentary Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, which chronicles the making of the album as well as her activism and philanthropy outside of her music career. Bringing a camera crew into the studio to capture her creative process wasn’t easy: “It’s definitely a challenge, because you just want to be completely open and free, and when you have cameras on you, you don’t feel like you can do that,” she says. “But you get used to it. And once you get past that mentality, you forget the cameras are there and you’re able to be completely vulnerable.”
Lovato also says it may not take another two years for her to release new music. She says that Tell Me You Love Me will be a “living album” and that she may release new tracks as a part of the project even after its September release date. “If you create another song that you like, you put out another song,” she explains. “It doesn’t have to be a single. It can just be added to the mass of music that you’ve already released.”