NEW YORK – When teen actress Lindsay Lohan decided to become known as teen singer Lindsay Lohan, she followed a tried-and-true formula for the under 21-pop set: an album dominated by upbeat, danceable songs that catered to a youthful demographic.
Her sophomore record, "A Little More Personal (Raw)," still has a few of those bouncy, light tunes that will appeal to the tween set. But the overall tone is darker: Power ballads with thrashing guitars have replaced the dance tracks, and the album, released Tuesday, finds her reflecting on personal troubles of the past year, including the incarceration of her father.
It's not the kind of material that helped her sell more than a million copies of her first album, "Speak." But at 19, Lohan is eager to show a more adult side — and she hopes the public is ready to see it, too.
"I do still have the younger fan base and I want them to be able to relate to some lighter songs, but I want to grow with my fans, and I've been trying to do that for so long," says Lohan. "I've just grown up really fast, and I'm thankful for that."
She's not thankful, however, for some of the things that have caused her to grow up at warp speed, especially over the past few months. Chief among them were the troubles of her father, Michael Lohan. Estranged from Lindsay, her mother, Dina, and Lindsay's three younger siblings, Michael Lohan was frequently in trouble with the law over the past year, including an arrest for driving while impaired. He was sentenced in May to up to four years in prison, and the Lohans divorced.
"When I think about it, it kind of just registers to me that it was in the papers that my father's going to jail. I think about that and I'm like, wow, that's really hard," says Lohan. "People usually don't deal with that in the public eye, for whoever it may be to see."
Lohan generally stayed mum about her father in the press, but their relationship is one of the focal points of the new record. The first single, "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)," is about a daughter's abandonment by her dad, and the video, which she directed, depicts an abusive husband.
"It was really to let girls, boys, anyone that's in an abusive relationship, anyone who is going through things like that ... to put it out there that it's OK to express how you feel," says Lohan. "If I'm in the position where I can take a stand and say something important, then I'd like to do that."
Kara DioGuardi, the album's executive producer and a co-writer along with Lohan on some of the album's songs, says the album reflects the more mature choices Lohan has taken in her life and in her work. Her upcoming films, including two about the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and John Lennon, are of a more serious vein. She's also done a film with Meryl Streep.
"There were songs on the album that were deeper, with more in-depth focus to her life," says DioGuardi. "I think the need to define herself as a young woman as opposed to a young child is becoming more and more evident."
That's especially so given Lohan's increasing tabloidization. She has become a fixture in gossip magazines since transforming from the cute kid in "The Parent Trap" to the beautiful, sexy starlet in last year's box- office hit "Mean Girls."
But not all the coverage has been favorable. Her sudden, voluptuous form last year gave way to plastic surgery rumors (which she has dismissed), and her dramatic weight loss fueled talk of an eating disorder or drug use (which Lohan vehemently denies).
In addition, her penchant for late-night partying is constantly documented, as well as her love life (reports have linked her to actor Jared Leto after her split last year from "That '70s Show" star Wilmer Valderrama) and even her hair color (for the record, the redhead has now gone from blond to auburn).
Lohan finds the spotlight alternately embarrassing, frustrating and upsetting: "That's just gross," says Lohan. "These things about people going out and doing drugs — people have families and kids who look up to them — a sister and brother — how can you say that? It's really horrible in a way."
Yet Lohan says she wasn't taking particularly good care of herself last year, when her frame was more gaunt than glamorous. She blames stress and a heavy workload and stretching herself too thin, in work and in play.
"I was just working, working, working, and tired, and going out with my friends in the wrong way when I should have been resting," says Lohan, looking slim but healthy in jeans, knee-high boots and a flowing top. "I knew that, but I needed to learn it for myself instead of just everybody telling me that."
Lohan says she's sworn off working weekends, and her main goal is "just making sure that I'm happy — I think it's mostly about that, and keeping myself grounded."
And DioGuardi says "A Little More Personal" helped her do that.
"It's sort of therapy," she says. "I think that she grew because she started understanding herself more."
Lohan hopes that listeners will get as much out of listening to her record as she did making it.
"I hope people take me seriously and respect what I'm willing to put out there. People don't have to rave about it," she says. But, she adds, "I want it to touch people whatever way it will touch the people individually."