When actresses turn pop stars, they are usually already so adept at meting out small, inconsequential bits of their private lives to a hungry public that what counts as a ”confession” is in reality rarely more than synth-deep. We know a lot about Jenny being From the Block, but few details about her many marriages; we know all about Hilary Duff’s hatred of Haters, but not much about the lawsuit her manager mother is facing.
Give Lindsay Lohan credit, then, for dispensing with niceties on her second album’s first track (also the lead single). It’s hard to imagine a more explicit snapshot of the highly publicized family problems that have plagued the star than ”Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father).” The accompanying video, which Lohan also directed, features intense depictions of a verbally abusive dad, a cowering mother, and a terrified little girl — as seen, appropriately enough, by a rubbernecking public through a plate glass window. Lindsay herself plays the anguished (if distractingly glamorous) 19-year-old in the corner, lamenting it all. There’s rage (”Tell me the truth, did you ever love me?”) along with vulnerability (”I don’t know you, but I still want to”), and a pretty solid hook, too.
This is not to say, of course, that pain consistently makes great art. There are few creative revelations in either the production of A Little More Personal (Raw) (it recalls nothing so much as the prime of ’80s spitfires like Pat Benatar and Patty Smyth) or the dear-diary lyrics of songs such as ”Black Hole” and ”My Innocence.” But Lohan’s (admittedly studio-sheened) brand of pop darkness reads realer than Ashlee Simpson’s, perhaps because the latter’s kewpie blankness makes her punk pretensions seem as transitory as her chipped, black nail polish. Having let us in on a private battle that feels genuine, Lindsay may be forgiven for the album’s weaker moments (like the title track: ”A Little More Personal” is anything but). Levity comes, surprisingly enough, from her two cover choices — Cheap Trick’s ”I Want You to Want Me” and Stevie Nicks’ ”Edge of Seventeen” (which was better utilized by Destiny’s Child when they sampled its signature riff for ”Bootylicious”). Lindsay’s versions aren’t much beyond well-produced karaoke, but if they lead her Gen-Z fans back to the song’s originators, that’s service enough (she’s already performed the former on TRL to major tween screams).
Like so many pop records today, Personal has more than its share of filler, and like all teenagers, Lohan contradicts herself. ”Fastlane” is all faux bravado about ”living for today” and making sure ”no one really knows how I feel inside.” Perhaps Personal’s vulnerability is calculated, and its rawness a misnomer, or maybe she’s really opening up. We’ll probably never know. Lindsay may no longer be on the edge of 17, but being 19, troubled, and ridiculously famous can cut pretty deep, so props to her for letting us see her bleed — just a little.