Release Date: Oct 14, 2014
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Review Summary: Transmitting the tunes of all dead soulsQuite a number of mixed opinions have surfaced the moment Blues Funeral hit the shelves a couple of years ago. Seeing Mark Lanegan embracing electronic elements within his trademark, alternative rock/folky blues style, raised a few eyebrows. Even so, he wasn't a total stranger to it as his tenure with Soulsavers smoothly introduced us to a rather similar path, albeit partly hidden under a lovely, vintage sound.
The title of Mary Lambert's debut, Heart on My Sleeve, reads like a concise manifesto of her work as a singer, slam poet, and, most famously, hook-crafter for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's Grammy-winning “Same Love. ” Opening the album with the lines “I've got bipolar disorder/My shit's not in order,” on lead single “Secrets,” seems like an air-clearing gesture, a declaration that no material will be too sacred or too personal. The song's tone and tempo, however, lift these personal admissions into the realm of bouncy, windows-down radio pop, as Lambert backs her lines with a peppy handclap/thigh-slap pattern, a driving 4/4 beat, and joyful horns.
A year after her vocals on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" made her into a star, Mary Lambert delivered Heart on My Sleeve, her full-length debut. Unlike Welcome to the Age of My Body, her time-buying 2013 EP, this downplays Lambert's roots as a poet, instead positioning her as a somewhat conventional singer/songwriter. This means, despite a doleful voice-and-piano reading of Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl," Heart on My Sleeve resembles the immaculate melodicism of Sara Bareilles more than the elusive, elliptical Tori Amos.
Sincerity went out of fashion, like, two decades ago, right? That’s one reason for the paucity of issues-minded pop in recent years. Whatever the real enemy is — capitalism, narcissism or any of their cousins — pop music has become an underused vehicle for unironic statements of change, a ….
"My heart's too big for you to understand me," concludes Mary Lambert on "Monochromatic," one of many self-reflective moments on her debut, Heart on My Sleeve. The Seattle native's earnest songwriting exudes a warm directness that makes her an appealing new pop voice. But the downside of that lyric is also true: Lambert errs anthemic, producing life-affirming pop rock and sorrowful balladry while keeping her life out of focus.