Close your eyes and imagine a spoken word performance. It takes place in a small coffee house in Portland, Oregon. (What? I’m biased.) The performer is a woman named Mary Lambert. She is strong and completely secure in who she is and what she believes. Welcome to Heart On My Sleeve.
This album is quite literally the story of her life. Her voice effortlessly takes vocal queues from everyone from Lana Del Rey in “Ribcage” to Regina Spektor in “Wounded Animal.” She channels jazz, R&B, pop, rock and alternative, giving each track a distinct sound.
The first track, “Secrets,” reads a diary entry. With lyrics such as “I’ve got bipolar disorder/ My shit’s not in order/ I’m overweight/ I’m always late/ I’ve got to many things to say,” Lambert doesn’t shy away from any topic. Her conviction brings an honesty to the pop music genre without the sentimentality. This balance is hard to achieve, but she makes it look easy.’
The fourth track on the album, “Dear One,” is a spoken word piece. Lambert is known as a spoken word artist, but poetry rarely works on albums. However, on this one, it adds to the utter rawness of this project. The backing vocals and piano for this piece bringing that small coffeehouse to life. “How can I spell your name without the sound of Autumn underneath my tongue,” she asks. Well written verses like this contribute to Lambert’s appeal.
The seventh track is Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl.” Lambert turns this rock anthem into a folk ballade: raising the key, changing the tempo, and relying solely on the piano. With this, she alters the meaning of the song from a man wanting to betray his best friend to a girl just wanting to be loved.
Lambert makes it easy to empathize with her struggles. The tenth track, “Wounded Animal,” explodes with her hurt soul. The repetition of “I’m sorry” in the chorus will bring tears to your eyes. It’s songs like this that create a personal connection to Lambert.
Whether you have a body image issues, a mental illness, a dysfunctional family or just a broken heart, at least one song on this album will speak to you.
If you want to see her in concert or buy this album (you really should) you can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.
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