Actress and singer Lea Michele’s new album is so full of Celine Dion-type vocal moments, I’d like to pour her a warm cup of honey lemon tea and congratulate her on a job well done.
The former Glee star’s sophomore release, Places, gets off on a climactic start with the song Love Is Alive. Each time she belts the chorus – which sees her hitting and holding those big, long notes, the kind you have to sing with your arms stretched out – I get goosebumps.
Love Is Alive is a classic love song built around a simple yet infectious melody. It is probably the singer’s best bet at a radio hit.
The album opener really sets the tone for the rest of Places. The 11-track release is filled with vocally-challenging ballads that seek to show off Michele’s vocal prowess and range.
Michele usually starts off soft and calm, gradually building up to an explosive finish, which could mean a display of her soaring falsettos like in Heavy Love or just her unbelievable ad-libs in Anything’s Possible.
But it’s not just about the vocal acrobatics. In fact, the most moving track on the album sees her singing hushedly on Hey You. Michele lost her boyfriend and fellow Glee co-star Cory Monteith in 2013, and the song sounds like a letter she wrote to him.
There are other quieter moments as well, particularly in the moody Sentimental Memories and heartwarming Getaway Car.
Lyrically, Michele is decidedly inspirational. Proud is about taking one’s own time to achieve something, while Believer is about rising up after a fall. The track Anything’s Possible is about starting over with a clean slate; Tornado talks about taking life’s challenges in stride.
Michele’s 2014 debut release Louder was aimed at marketing her as a pop star. Places positions her as a powerhouse vocalist with a gift for sprawling pop ballads.