Thursday, October 16, 2014

Heart On My Sleeve | Mary Lambert


★★☆☆☆

You may not know her name, but you definitely know her voice. Mary Lambert is probably most well-known from her featured role in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' pro-gay marriage anthem "Same Love," but she is now trying to carve a name for herself beyond her big break. She wrote new verses around her "Same Love" chorus and released the solo song as "She Keeps Me Warm" on a low-key extended play, but she has now moved forward to the release of her first full-length album, Heart on My Sleeve.

The lead single to the album, "Secrets," has been moderately successful on contemporary radio, but shares a dramatically different side of Lambert's musicality. "Same Love" introduced us to a light-voiced songbird, but "Secrets" offers up an awkward half-spoken, half-sung track that covers up insecurities with a fun, care-free sound. Even with proclamations of her sexuality, mental state, and family problems, Lambert fails to garner a unique character shape. With this in mind, she tries to compensate for her lack of character by borrowing from others. Throughout this album, she channels influences from contemporaries ranging from Christina Perri and Sara Bareilles ("When You Sleep," "Chasing the Sun") to Ingrid Michaelson ("Heart on My Sleeve," "So Far Away").

She tries to draw out some sort of sentiment on a short poetic interlude titled "Dear You," but the final product is an awkward, rushed storytelling session. Perhaps the most emotionally-charged cut from this album is not even composed of her own words: Lambert's cover of Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" takes the original pop-rock song and transposes it into a subdued piano ballad with a lesbian twist. Everywhere else, mushy lyrics get layered over rinse-and-repeat mid-tempo pop sounds. The album may highlight Lambert's light vocal abilities, but isn't able to spark an interest in the music itself. Her heart might have been on her sleeve while compiling this album, but the final products on this album make it seem like she was wearing a cutoff.

Heart on My Sleeve is out now under Capitol Records.

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