Lea Michele Lea Michele

Lea Michele says writing and recording her new album Louder helped her overcome her grief after losing her boyfriend Cory Monteith last summer.

"I had this experience happen to me [and] decided to write about it," the Glee star tells the Los Angeles Times. "That's what felt organic."

Monteith, Michele's Glee co-star and boyfriend of four years, died in July from a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol.

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The album's first single, "Cannonball," is about new beginnings. Michele recalls hearing the song for the first time:  I just literally keeled over because grief is a very scary thing, and there comes a point where it can really take you down," she says. "['Cannonball'] lifted me up. It was what I needed to get through my difficult situation."

Rather than avoid the topic, Michele decided to address Monteith's death head-on on the record, which was released Tuesday. "A lot of people don't know how to touch this situation. It's like walking on eggshells," Michele says. "I felt 'Cannonball' ... puts it all out there. It's like this is really hard, we're not denying that it's hard. We're gonna get through it."

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Another track, "If You Say So," which Michele co-wrote with Sia Furler, is a reflection on the last conversation she had with Monteith. "It's something beautiful that came at a very difficult time," Michele says of her record. "If I've learned anything from this past year is that you have one life. ... You have to love as hard as you can love and live as hard as you can live because we just have one life. I feel like Louder really expresses that."