Mary Lambert is wearing her heart on her sleeve, and she wants everyone to know it.
The 25 year-old singer-songwriter just released her debut full-length album for Capitol Records, entitled Heart On My Sleeve, which features two breakout singles—“Secrets” and “When You Sleep”—and her supporting tour has her coming to The Capitol Theater in Clearwater Saturday, Oct. 25. It’s a return trip to Pinellas County for the singer, who performed at St. Pete Pride’s benefit concert in June.
“I thought ‘Secrets’ was a natural first single,” says Lambert. “It’s definitely the most upbeat of all the songs on the record, but I think it’s a good reflection, lyrically, of what people are in store for. My writing is really honest, and I know a lot of people say that, but for me it’s ridiculously honest. It felt like the right song to put forward, and it’s good timing for it.
Of “When You Sleep,” Lambert says longtime fans will be in for a treat.
“I love that it was the second single released, it’s very much reminiscent of my old work,” she says. “So people who have been fans of mine for a long time know that I’m still the professional singer-songwriter, and it’s just a good love song.”
While the world is now being introduced to Lambert’s first album offering as an artist, most are already familiar with her voice and the song that first put her on the map. Lambert lent her pipes and her writing skills to rapper Macklemore’s 2012 track “Same Love,” the critically acclaimed song that discussed gay rights. Lambert says her involvement in the song was more coincidence than anything else.
“My good friend Hollis, who sings on [Macklemore’s] ‘White Walls,’ called me up and said ‘Hey do you want to write a song with Macklemore?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I think so,’” she says with a laugh. “It kind of fell into my lap, at the time I was exploring being a Christian and a lesbian, and I felt like I was living in two different worlds, so it felt really good to explore that in my writing, and it was really relevant for what I was going through at the time.”
The song’s success lead to Lambert being approached with a slew of opportunities, and her signing to a major label brought a major change in Lambert’s life.
“’Same Love’ was the most radical shift for me,” she says. “I went from working three jobs as a waitress and bartender to touring the country with a song about gay rights. For me, having ‘Same Love’ be the world’s first exposure to me, with this song about social justice and civil rights, it was a fantastic representation of who I am and what I want to continue doing.”
She continues, explaining how she views the changes that have transpired in her life.
“It feels a little surreal, I think to myself ‘Ok, I used to sleep on my friends’ couches all the time and didn’t have a place to live, and now I’m being put up very well, and have a very stable life,’” she says. “I’m just sort of rolling with it, what I’m really trying to do is make sure I’m not ‘entitled,’ you have to keep yourself accountable throughout it all.”
In her ability to go with the flow, Lambert has been able to openly share with the world her personal experiences, and is happy to be a voice for the gay community as she speaks about gay rights and social injustice.
“I was never planning on any of this, so for me all I can do is speak about my experiences and be honest, and I live on the basis of living unapologetically. I believe in the good of humanity, and love, and I want to spread that. That’s more my mission than anything else. Being gay isn’t inherently political, whether you want it to be or not, and so just the sheer fact that I’m a lesbian on a major label singing about gay rights and body issues, it wasn’t something I intended on happening, this is just who I am, this is the only way I know how to be.”
Lambert also feels that her open and honest style of writing is coming at the best possible time, as she says there is a shift happening in the music world, and listeners are ready for a change.
“People are hungry for authenticity and for genuine artistry, and people are making it a priority. There’s a reason why Meghan Trainor shot to number one and Sam Smith is doing really well, these are people that are singing their truths and writing honest songs and just not giving a shit, they’re just being themselves and they’re being accepted for it,” she says. “It’s not to say there isn’t a place for dance music and party music. For me, my goal and my message is about social justice and the love of humanity. I think some people sit down to write, and they think ‘Ok I just want to write a song,’ and when I sit down I think ‘Ok, what is it that’s burning in me to come out, what’s begging to come out?’ And that’s what songwriting is for me, I feel very much like a vessel.”
She’s now hitting the road on her first headlining tour, and she says she’s more prepared than ever.
“We just started the tour and it’s been incredible already,” she says enthusiastically. “My touring experience has been in every imaginable capacity now, I did an arena tour where there were 20,000 people screaming my name and who knew my lyrics, I rented a van with my best friend and played 14 cities in these dirty clubs and sometimes six people would show up, and I opened for Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson and no one there really knew who I was but it was still a big audience and I had to win them over. So this being my first headlining tour, I really get to take that experience of those previous tours and put it towards this tour; it’s a good thing, it’s very gratifying, those previous experiences really taught me a lot.”
Lambert says it’s been a whirlwind, but she has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“I’m on turbo-go mode, what’s really important is to have the awareness of everything that’s going on around you,” she says. “It’s teaching me to trust my intuitions, every time I stray away from my intuitions, which I have in the past, and have gone away from what my gut says, it always turns out that my intuition was right. So I now know to trust that I’m making the right decisions and making the right moves and that it’s happening as it should be.”
WHO: Mary Lambert
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25
WHERE: Capitol Theatre, Clearwater