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Mary Lambert has heart

| Monday, November 3, 2014

WEB_Mary LambertSara Shoemake
When it comes to both life and music, Mary Lambert is no stranger to being different.

The redheaded singer, songwriter and spoken word artist originally made her start co-starring on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ track “Same Love,” whose popularity skyrocketed and earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. However, on her debut full-length album, “Heart on My Sleeve,” she puts all her cards out on the table, and through vulnerable and honest songwriting and lyrics, she shows that she isn’t afraid to take the spotlight on her own.

“Heart On My Sleeve” differs from Lambert’s last EP, “Welcome To The Age of My Body,” which was heavy in spoken word. Instead, “Heart On My Sleeve” features all songs with the exception of “Dear One,” a spoken word piece that works as more of a transition between two music tracks.

The album opens with “Secrets,” which literally takes Lambert’s secrets and exposes them for the world to see. “I can’t think straight/ I’m so gay/ Sometimes I cry a whole day/ I care a lot/ use an analog clock/ and never know when to stop/ I’m passive-aggressive/ I’m scared of the dark and the dentist/ I love my butt and won’t shut up/ And I never really grew up.”

However, instead of taking a dark turn, “Secrets” is a genuine pop ballad whose dance-y beat and catchy lyrics will stay with you long after it’s over. True to Mary Lambert’s devil-may-care attitude, this song is all about loving yourself, down to the blatant “I don’t care if the whole world knows what my secrets are, so what?” and Mary’s honest laugh before her (impressive) operatic skills at the end.

One of overall greatest strengths of “Heart on My Sleeve” is its powerful lyricism. Lambert is a true songwriter, meshing soulful, sad and happy together to create a group of songs that is both powerful and melancholy. They blend together seamlessly, even though “Secrets” is the most upbeat song on the album.

Two songs that really stand out are “Ribcage,” a collaboration with rappers Angel Haze and K Flay, in which Lambert talks about opening yourself up to the people that come along in life, and “Sum of Our Parts,” which is more about not letting others or past experiences equal who you really are. These songs both have powerful messages, and the break from song to rap in “Ribcage” makes it interesting. Both songs slow you down and make you think.

Another noteworthy song in “Heart on My Sleeve” is Lambert’s cover of “Jessie’s Girl,” the classic Rick Springfield track. It especially stands out upon realizing that — surprise — a girl who likes girls is singing it. Lambert likes to push the boundaries with her songs, and this one certainly does. Instead of being your average amped-up cover, “Jessie’s Girl” is soft and soulful, with a really wishful quality. What if the girl got the girl in the end instead?

There is nothing negative I could say about the album overall, but there is one song that did not resonate with me as much as the others. “Sing to Me” is wholeheartedly a love song, but it didn’t match up to the rest of the album — there was a little too much fluff in there for me.

I’m usually not the one to go out and buy a physical CD anymore, but if I were going to this month, it would be this one. “Secrets” is an album with versatility that will stay with me from writing in my room to dancing in my car — and that alone makes it more than worth it.


4.5 out of 5 Shamrocks
Favorite Songs: “Secrets,” “Sum of Our Parts,” and “Monochromatic.”
Similar Artists: Sara Bareilles, Fiona Apple, Indigo Girls

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