DEMI x JBL Tell Me You Love Me Pop Up Event
Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Demi Lovato is a fighter. Literally. If you follow her on Instagram, you know she can kick serious martial-arts ass. But she’s also a lover. That’s the takeaway from her sixth, R&B-inspired album, Tell Me You Love Me. The 25-year-old has never been one to shy away from vocalizing her opinions, whether it be through music or social media. But while 2015’s Confident was a punchy, booming album that established Lovato as a powerhouse vocalist, the ballad-heavy Tell Me You Love Me suffers for some of its excessive vocal fireworks.

The best parts of the album are on the first half and showcase Lovato’s swagger, especially the standout gospel-tinged title track. It’s easy to picture her belting out “You ain’t nobody til you got somebody!” at church — or at least a rollicking drag brunch. Tell Me also sees Lovato feelin’ friskaaay and confidently vocalizing those urges. On “Ruin the Friendship,” she’s even prepared to get it on with a pal: “Your body’s lookin good tonight/ I’m thinking we should cross the line.”

But Lovato’s huge voice is sometimes a detriment to an album straining to be an audio aphrodisiac. Tell Me wants to be something you play during a Netflix and chill session, but Lovato’s vocals often border on overbearing. No one wants to interrupt a date by asking to turn down the music. Several of these tracks, like “Concentrate,” seem more fitted to fellow Disney alum Selena Gomez’s flutter kicks than to Lovato’s punch-to-the-gut delivery. If she doesn’t want to contain her roar, maybe next time she can find a sound more suited for it. B