Album Review: Mary Lambert’s Heart on My Sleeve

Mary Lambert’s debut, Heart on My Sleeve, is an intricately crafted body of work that showcases her talent as a singer, songwriter and slam poet. Lambert is known for penning the killer hook on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ ‘Same Love’ but on her debut, the straight white man rapping about the time he thought he was gay is just a distant memory.

With an opening as bold as can be, lead single ‘Secrets’ and its opening lines, “I’ve got bipolar disorder/My shit’s not in order,” is Lambert’s declaration that this record won’t be as happy as the beat lets on and as we dive further into the 14 tracks, it becomes clear that this one of the most self-reflective and self-empowering records to ever be written.

The thing about ‘Secrets’ that we get such of a kick out of is that it’s a song about flaws and things Lambert can’t fix about herself but she’s all about embracing them. The tone and tempo forces us to be happy and we want to dance all while she’s talking about crying all day, being passive aggressive and being scared of the dentist. ‘Secrets’ doubles as a self-cleansing ritual of sorts for laughing off your insecurities and also a subtle diss as the chorus states – “I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are … so what?”

Track four, ‘Dear One’, introduces us to Lambert’s talents as a spoken word artist, showing that this isn’t just your average singer/songwriter LP. Coming from a background flourished by street hip-hop and slam poetry, we’ve been handed Lambert’s diary – the pages filled by the lyrics she so eloquently spills while tripping over herself falling in love.

Taking the cake on Heart On My Sleeve is what can only be called a cover to end all covers. A classic song we all know and most of us have a deep secret love for, Rick Springfield’s ‘Jessie’s Girl’. A song you could call a staple to the music industry has been given a makeover by Lambert and the up-tempo rock classic feels brand new with Lambert’s vocals backed by a piano. Ultimately what we’ve been given is an anthem now sung by a queer woman who breathes life into a song once thought of as just something fun to dance along to.

The second half of the record takes up deeper into the diary of Lambert with tracks like ‘Monochromatic’ and ‘Heart On My Sleeve’; we’re shown just how much emotion went into the creative process of bringing her heartfelt lyrics to life. In this day and age we’re lead to believe that it doesn’t take much effort to produce a record; Mary Lambert’s debut is the perfect example of the blood, sweat and tears taken to bring a dream to life.

From golden hook writer, to spoken word feminist warrior, to ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ – Mary Lambert is an artist whose talents lie beyond an ability to just create music. Her ‘Body Love’ campaign will forever be seen as one of the most powerful forms of self-realisation. Her vocals are captivating and her lyrics are heartfelt, listening to her we’re taken on this journey of self-discovery and acceptance that when combined they are equal parts empowering and heartbreaking but by the end of the record we feel better for listening to it.

Alex Parker

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