02/27/2014 at 12:00 PM EST
For millions of Glee
fans, Cory Monteith
and Lea Michele
will always be the quarterback and the diva – a picture perfect TV pair. Since Monteith's death last July from a toxic cocktail of heroin and alcohol
, Michele's fans are wondering how she's doing.
Though she's spoken about her grief before
, Michele, 27, was able to open up through her music at a small listening party for her first album, Louder
, held in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
In the days following Monteith's passing, Michele spoke about meeting songwriter Sia Furler, who let her listen to the song "Cannonball."
"I just literally keeled over," Michele said. "Grief is a very scary thing, and there comes a point where it can really take you down." The song, which features inspirational lyrics – "And now I will start living today, I've got this new beginning and I will fly," she sings – is the first song on the album.
"When I heard 'Cannonball,' it lifted me up. It was what I needed to get through my difficult situation."
"A lot of people don't know how to touch this situation. It's like walking on eggshells," she continued. "It puts it all out there. It's really hard, we're not denying that it's hard, and we're gonna get through it ... I really hope it helps people the way it helps me."
Though most of the album was finished by last June, Michele explained the release was delayed, allowing her to add both "Cannonball" and "If You Say So" which pleads, "And I can’t get away / From the burning pain / I lie awake / The fallen hero / Haunts my thoughts / How could you leave me this way?"
As for her favorite song "You're Mine," also written by Furler, Michele said, "It's really about making that commitment in your relationship. I'm so grateful to get to say that I experienced true love and I think that a lot of people unfortunately don't. They'll go a whole lifetime without this experience. I did and I consider myself so lucky. It takes me back to the best time of my life, so whenever I need to remember that, I play that song."
Michele added, "If I've learned anything from this past year it's that you have one life. I didn't really understand what that meant until recently. You have to live your life to the fullest and you have to love as hard as you can love."
While the songs are reflective, Michele also emphasized that's there's plenty of pop on the album.
"A lot of the songs are pop heavy, which is what I wanted. I'm a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson
and Katy Perry
In the end, "It's really been the greatest medicine for me."