Mary Lambert's Anguish and Insecurities Turn Beautiful on New Album

Mary Lambert found writing her new album "uplifting" and "subversive."
Mary Lambert found writing her new album "uplifting" and "subversive."
Autumn De Wilde

Mary Lambert has never held anything back in her music.

She burst onto the pop scene in a huge way as the out-and-proud hook lady on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' smash "Same Love." Lambert performed the hit at the Grammy Awards earlier this year before Madonna joined her onstage, just a taste of the stardom she's starting to cultivate as a solo artist with her major-label debut full-length album, Heart on My Sleeve.

Though she could have gone the independent route, à la Macklemore and Lewis, Lambert says signing to a major (Capitol Records) has its perks.

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"I have full control, and that makes me feel really good, because I know there are a lot of artists who have to fight for creative control in a lot of respects," Lambert says. "I got to see what the hustle was like from Macklemore and Ryan. I booked my own tours, and it was really important for me to learn about that. The thing I learned about being independent is you basically contact a lot of people out that a major label would anyway. I like to be a little bit pampered."

Despite signing to a major label, she doesn't censor herself in "Secrets," a single embraced by Top 40 radio. Lambert further puts it all out there, calling out qualities some might be shy about, such as being bipolar, wearing mom jeans, and having some extra meat on her bones.

"When we were writing it, we were like, this is the song I've been waiting to do," Lambert says. "It felt uplifting and subversive in nature that it had a really fun pop feel to it, but it was empowering and was my message and what I wanted to share. It made sense for this new chapter in my life. My first two EPs were kind of confessional and sad, and this was like a breath of fresh air."

Like the honest track, Lambert says she's equally chatty during shows on her current headlining tour.

"The shows are a big ball of feelings and magic," Lambert says. "You're not just listening to music -- it is an experience. I invite people to feel whatever they want to feel, where it's vulnerable, and I myself am very vulnerable and open and trusting."

Part of that vulnerability is bipolar disorder. She says she's focusing on staying healthy while on the road, which has so far been successful, despite the challenges it presents.

"It's not easy. It's important to be in a healthy mental state, for anyone, whether you have a mental disorder or not," Lambert says. "Being on a tour bus is really helpful because you have one place to be. It's harder in hotels because you're constantly moving your stuff around. It's important to take care of my mental health and ask for what I need."

One person Lambert has definitely found acceptance from is singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews, a former Phoenician who now lives in Seattle, Lambert's home. The two have played together and count each other as fans.

"Mary's music is beautiful, honest, and heartfelt, and I'm honored to have her as one of my fans," Andrews says.

Adds Lambert, "I discovered her four or five years ago, when I was just starting out with my very first EP. My friend liked her on Facebook, and I was like, 'Who is this girl?' I started following her and thought her music was really good. Her second record game out, and I was obsessed, and her next record came out, and I was equally obsessed. I want her to be really successful, and I'd love to write with her."

Mary Lambert is scheduled to perform Sunday, November 9, at Club Red in Mesa.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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