Mary Lambert’s “Ribcage” Review 4 1/2 Stars

A few days ago, Mary Lambert quietly dropped a new music video on her official MaryLambertVevo Youtube account. “Ribcage” appears to be the second official single off of Mary’s latest studio album, Heart on My Sleeve. In it, she sits alone in a dim room drinking shots of whiskey while singing about the feelings of suicidal LGBT youth.

Ribcage is an excellent choice. After the bouncy, self-deprecatory “Secrets,” “Ribcage” perfectly showcases Mary’s capacity to depict heart-wrenching agony. At least for LGBTs who can empathize, Mary Lambert’s new song hits home. Mary’s voice is ironic and casually sad, as it depicts the the horrifyingly graphic act of opening up one’s own ribcage in the ultimate act of passive resistance.

The metaphorical or literal desire to open up one’s ribcage, is, of course, a desire to wrench empathy from an unfeeling audience by any means possible. To any naysayers who think this is hyperbole, you have to keep in mind the situation in which LGBT youth are likely to find (or have found) themselves. They go through the same mishmash of changes and hormones as everyone else, yes. But, their unique drama and constant stressors, fears, etc. which they are UNABLE TO EXPRESS or share with anyone, amplify their pain exponentially. LGBT youth may frequently go through their own personal hell, a period of constant and extraordinary anguish, fear, and other emotions coupled with isolation. To the steady trickle of LGBT youth who actually attempt suicide each year, Mary Lambert’s lyrics are not hyperbole.

Review: 4 1/2 stars

“Ribcage” doesn’t sound like it was produced by the same people who make Taylor Swift and Adele songs. The lyrics could be better written in places, and Mary’s voice sometimes sounds like it was recorded live, rather than in a studio.

Sonically, however, the song does carve out its own space. The rawness of Mary Lambert’s voice is frequently something that her fans praise. She figuratively opens up all of our ribcages and makes us feel her emotions in a way that popstars generally don’t. Personally, I’ve always thought that “Ribcage” was one of the highlights of an extraordinary album.

Especially considering its (I assume) relatively low budget and meager production, Mary’s team did an excellent job of showcasing her voice.

Featured Artists: Angel Haze and K. Flay

Angel Haze is a U.K. rapper, perhaps best known for her 2014 single “Battle Cry” featuring Sia (pre-“Chandelier”), which has been viewed 5.6 million times on Youtube and which peaked at #70 on the U.K. singles chart. She was also featured on “Numb,” an album cut from Nick Jonas’ current album (which includes “Jealous,” “Chains,” and “Levels”). She has also worked with Ludacris and Rudimental.

K. Flay is perhaps best known for her 2014 single, “Make Me Fade.”

I tacitly note that the rapping on the second rap verse is strongly reminiscent of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Who is Mary Lambert?

Mary Lambert came to fame as the guest-star (“She keeps me warm…”) of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s smash hit, “Same Love.” Retroactively, she turned that chorus into a sample of its own song, “She Keeps me Warm.” Mary Lambert is known for her emotional song-writing style and for her gripping poetry. Besides “Secrets” and “Ribcage,” highlights of Heart on my Sleeve include the title track, “When You Sleep,” “So Far Away,” “Jessie’s Girl” (a gripping cover of the classic hit from a lesbian perspective) and “Sum of Our Parts.”

Learn more on Mary Lambert’s official website.

Why is it weird that she just dropped a music video for “Ribcage” now?

I assume that Mary’s label intends to promote the song to radio as an ordinary single. But, it is kindof weird to drop a second single from an album more than one year and a half after the first single. If I had to guess, I would say that the label decided at the last minute to try promoting another single off of Heart on My Sleeve rather than try to promote a new album. It is a smart business decision. Mary has already produced a lot of solid material. The label should siphon off modest funding to produce relatively cheap music videos and thereby continue promoting Mary’s music in a cost-effective way while waiting for something to take off.

I’d love to see this song get serious radio airplay. Mary Lambert deserves the attention. The world would be lucky to contain a more prominent Mary Lambert.


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Peter Daines is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. His interests include studying foreign languages, watching and predicting events in politics and the music industry, and searching fruitlessly for the meaning of life.

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