KNITTING FACTORY PRESENTS
Mary Lambert, Mal Blum
In 2012, Mary Lambert was working three restaurant jobs when her life changed. An aspiring singer-songwriter, cellist, spoken word artist, and newly graduated with a Bachelors of Music Composition from Cornish College of the Arts, she had begun to establish herself around Seattle, performing slam poetry and fusing a talk-singing style into her intimate performances. She received a phone call from a friend who was working with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on their debut album, The Heist. Macklemore and Lewis were struggling to write a chorus for their new song, a marriage-equality anthem, called “Same Love”. Lambert had three hours to write the hook, and the result was the transcendent chorus to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ triple-platinum hit “Same Love,” which Lambert wrote from her vantage point of being both a Christian and a lesbian.
Writing and singing the hook led to two Grammy nominations for “Song Of The Year” and “Album Of The Year”, as well as the iconic performance alongside pop legend Madonna at the 2014 Grammys. Mary then signed with Capitol Records, where she released her debut album “Heart on My Sleeve” produced by Eric Rosse (Sara Bareilles, Tori Amos) and Benny Cassette (Kanye West). Her smash single, “Secrets” launched to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance charts, and was certified RIAA Gold in 2015. The New York Times called her debut album “refreshing and severely personal”.
Mary Lambert isn’t your typical pop artist. Inspired by confessional folk singers as well as spoken-word performers, she is a brutally candid writer who deals directly in her art with her past traumas. Lambert was raised in an abusive home, attempted suicide at 17, turned to drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and survived multiple sexual assaults throughout her childhood. With that list of horrors, you wouldn’t expect Mary to be disarmingly joyful, but she charms effortlessly, and the effect on her audience is bewitching. She describes her performances as “safe spaces where crying is encouraged; My entire prerogative is about connection, about being present, and facilitating true catharsis. Also, fart jokes.”
Mary Lambert’s latest EP, Bold. is her first release since leaving Capitol Records, and was fully funded through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $20,000 in 8 hours, and closed at $70,000 in a few short weeks. The response was a true testament to the passionate communities she represents. Lambert produced 3 of the 7 tracks herself, including a touching duet with her mom, Mary Kay Lambert. “Bold. is a queer pop EP about being unabashedly yourself. I think that we are in an era where embracing and loving your real, complex self is radical, and this collection of songs epitomizes that belief.” Bold. will be available worldwide on May 5th.
And so opens the first track on Mal Blum’s new LP You Look a Lot Like Me out on Don Giovanni Records October 2nd. In many ways, the scene is immediately set for the record that follows: one that that vastly explores themes of struggle and loneliness through a lens of self-effacing humor. Though perhaps an odd choice for the opening line off most bands’ label debut, this immediate leap into first person narrative is unsurprising in this case.
Marissa Paternoster (guitarist/singer of Screaming Females) produced the album, going through sixteen songs Mal had written and paring them down to ten that made the final cut.
This collaborative effort resulted in a stripped-down, punk-influenced, indie rock record—a tighter, plugged-in, and less scrappy version of Mal’s work, emphasized by big guitar hooks, crunchy distortion, and that signature vocal flare and lyrical ingenuity Mal Blum has always showcased.
A more mature record than previous releases, due to both time and experience, Mal has written a fully realized, cohesive LP, which is ironic in some ways.
“When I wrote all the songs on the album I was so depressed at that time that I actually didn’t have a concept that I was writing songs. But when I started feeling better everything started to come into place: Don Giovanni wanted me to put out the album, then they put me in touch with Marissa to produce it.”
In many ways, the album is a mental health record, written when Mal was at a low point, and re-worked and polished at a high one. Though at times deceptive, large themes of avoidance (“Reality TV,” “Better Go” and “Cool Party”), escapism (“Iowa” and “New Orleans”), isolation (“Split, Splitting), obsessive thought patterns (“Archive,”) and even the therapeutic process itself (“The Shrink Thinks”) are carefully woven throughout the LP.
2015 will see Mal continuing to play locally and tour relentlessly in support of the new LP.