DISCLAIMER: It has been brought to my attention that Adam Lambert in many interviews has stated that he rarely uses his falsetto. I use the word in this post because I felt it descriptive in terms of trying to communicate to others what I heard. I am NOT a music theorist so please be advised that if there are specific theoretical terms, view them for what they are: words from a layman trying in a foreign language to describe something that has made me incredibly happy.
Ever since Adam Lambert did his “Mad World” version on a talent show that otherwise slips my mind, I developed a thing for the theatrics, rawness and the voice. Over the years, he has created a rather impressive catalogue of hits. They range from strong ballads to glam rock power tunes and dance floor courting tracks. And while there has been experimenting, such as “Ghost Town”, there was always a certain Lambert feel to it. This was of course aided by the distinct and rich Lambert-vocal. You know, the one that could equally fill your ears with honey and tear your fucking heart out.
Then “Velvet: Side A” happened…. and of course it had to be part of my Swinging Reviews!
Adam Lambert and the New-Found Tight Grip
This is a surprice!
And yet I don’t know why it would be, because if anyone can work up a groove it’s Adam Lambert.
There are only 6 tunes on “Velvet: Side A”. Rest assured though that each of these tracks are meticulously tight combed for any signs of weakness.
There is a genre command, a tight grip, that ties the album together. This is kind of a new thing. Not that the previous albums were all over the place. They were just a bit more playful and searching in their feel. “Velvet: Side A” means business. Once you settle in that groove grip, it will not let you go.
“Velvet: Side A” – the Tracks One By One
Can I just say that the album cover itself took a little bit of getting used to. At first I thought it looked like some cheap rendition of a random photoedit. Then listening to the songs and how they resurrect old groovy vibes, it makes totally sense. It’s not a cheap rendition of a quick mock up, it’s frecking classic, retro and up to date at the same time. But let’s dive in and let the velvet surround us.
Holy shit! I am going to say things, describing this track that might rub some peeps the wrong way.
Fact is, sugars, there were two icons (make that “frecking Gods of music industry) that sprung to mind; Michael Jackson and George Michael.
Yeah, I know – to some that equals blasphemy!
But this cupcake of yours doesn’t believe in gods so I will hold that thought… besides – it’s MY blog. And “Superpower” did make me think about the Golden Age(s) of both icons.
The track starts out super groovy, mid tempo, and you’ll be tapping that foot along to the rythm, like it or not. It evolves into a melodic bridge, that showcases a bit of the Adam Lambert belty range – and for the chorus it rolls into a caramelized retro bass groove, that will probably, surely, definitly, get your upper body working too.
And I already told you about the grip…. face it, you’re not done grooving yet!
Stranger You Are
Mmm, mmm, MMM!
There is this smoooooth bass groove to this one, that I really can’t describe – in my mind I’m sent to old dance flicks like Saturday Night Fever, or seventies club photos in that orange light glare and low tech spotlight.
The vocals are a bit more growly, not sacrificing the range and the instrumental side of things is just…sexy!
Closer to You
No, it wouldn’t be a Lambert album without a ballad.
This one however starts soft and fluffy, with an early 80’ies feel accompanied by a steady piano. “Closer to You” doesn’t play on the big volumnous feel, but rather sinks in steady and while we do get the huge range, it is still kept tight and faithful to the retro ballad groove it leans on.
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In my opinion, this track is the absolute winner of the album. So many things are coming together, melting together and is also the tune, that inspired me to use the phrase “revamp” – needless to say, it’s been on repeat, volume at max and when I don’t hear it, I miss the groove.
Let me take you through this masterpiece…
Imagine it all starting out like soft honey pouring richly from a jar into your ears… deep groovy bass, light synth piano, added by a discrete sound wall of an electric guitar. Now add to this a cotton soft falsetto of Adam Lamberts’, gently caressing, vulnerable and melting into the music. It’s suuuuper smooth and you think you got it all figured out…
Then the chorus happens, that is probably compatible with a candyfloss explosion. The vocal… I don’t even know what it’s called in English, so bare with the describtion. The chorus vocal is kind of kept in a slight joddle style, shifting fast between high and low. While doing this, the beat rises but keeps its’ super tight groove throughout the chorus, until the lid is put on firmly to re-secure the verse smoothness.
To me – in my opinion – “Overglow” is the DNA, the backbone of “Velvet: Side A”. If you can’t imagine what a revamped 70’ies/80’ies groove sounds like, this is the song you need to listen to.
So basically this is “Overglow” dressed in leather!
I’m sorry for potential blushing cheeks, but this is just that kind of album. Groovy albums tend to be, and this one rips the shit out of groove.
So – I’m not going to go with the honey metaphor here. Maybe jam? Or Nutella? Fuck it, the vocal’s equally falsettish and compliments the deep groove but evolves into the classic Lambert sound in the chorus with range play and belching.
I honestly don’t know how to explain the leather… but I’m pretty sure it makes sense, once you dive in.
Ready to Run
I’m giggling a bit here…. and what I am thinking, please don’t interpret that as low thinking of the track, because it ain’t.
Remember the “Fraggle Rock Theme”?
I kid you not, the first two seconds of “Ready to Run” is going to send you straight back to Gobo, Mokey, Boober and the others! How the fudge pie could it get any more nostalgic. If you are too young too remember Fraggle Rock, you have not yet lived!
Forcing myself back on track (no pun intended) “Ready to Run” finishes the Velvet: Side A album, and has a slight moody sound but with a strong touch of fierceness, as the chorus introduces a distorted electric guitar.
The Adam Lambert vocal goes deep, high, belty with a strong sense of control.
I would classify the song as slow mid temp.
Why Should YOU Listen to Adam Lambert Velvet: Side A?
Depending on how long you’ve tagged along these trenches of mine, you might know that when I dance, I look like I’m being chased by wasps on a vengance.
So I don’t. Dance, I mean.
Yet, this dude, dedicated to shove a little sunshine into your day, danced for six consecutive tracks…twice! I almost lost my breath, mind you, it’s no joke!
And I am positive, if it can make me wiggle my body, you will do so too. With frecking ease!
I also believe, though he is enjoying a lot of respect, Adam Lambert is still massively underrated as a singer and an artist.
And this is all for t’day, folks!