In 2011, Demi Lovato wrote a revealing song for her third album, Unbroken, called “For the Love of a Daughter.” A raw powerhouse ballad laced with angst, it chronicled the then 19-year-old's strained relationship with her biological father, Patrick Lovato, shedding light on his alcoholism and the toll it took on her.
Unbroken was fueled by vulnerability after Demi’s much-publicized stint in rehab, but “For the Love of a Daughter” was easily its most emotional track because of its fiercely personal nature. Demi’s parents split when she was 2 years old, and she was thereafter raised by her mother, Dianna De La Garza, and her stepfather, Eddie De La Garza. Demi said in 2009 that she had “cut off all connection” with Patrick and hadn’t spoken to him in two years because he had “let [her] down so many times.”
Now, on the 23-year-old’s fifth studio album, Confident, which dropped Friday (Oct. 16), Demi again addresses her relationship with her dad. Only this time, the circumstances are drastically different. Patrick passed away in 2013 at age 54 after battling cancer. At the time, Demi tweeted her honest and conflicting feelings about saying goodbye to him.
So, after two years of living in a world without her father, how would Demi choose to write and sing about him again? The answer lies in “Father,” Confident’s closing track and easily the album’s most chilling one.
To some degree, singing is a technical skill; a craft that can be learned and perfected by exercising your vocal cords like a muscle. But what separates the technically great singers from the bonafide artists is the emotion that goes into a piece of music. Sometimes, you can practically hear a person smile when they sing. Other times, you can hear when someone is in gut-wrenching pain.
That’s kind of how Demi sounds on “Father.” Her voice strains, but it doesn’t falter — that’s her gift; she’s an artist who’s blessed with both a technically incredible voice AND expression that can pack a punch right through your headphones.
Demi isn’t angry or angsty here, but she’s not shy about opening up old wounds, either, and admitting she still isn’t quite OK. The sentiment is one that’s brutally and admirably honest: her dad was a flawed man, and she’ll always hate some of the things he did. But now that he’s gone, she’s praying for his peace and hoping he finds a better life than he did on this earth.
The song’s climax arrives just shy of the three-minute mark, and it’s a hair-raising moment, as a choir sweeps in and takes the ballad to soaring heights. It all adds up to Demi’s most emotional contribution to her discography to date, and one that proves how far she’s come as an artist and as a daughter.