For indie-pop singer, activist and spoken-word poet Mary Lambert, 2013 was her breakout year. She collaborated with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the LGBTQ anthem "Same Love," which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and then made waves with the sweet, queer love song "She Keeps Me Warm." With her success alongside Macklemore and Lewis came two Grammy Award nominations, a label signing to Capitol Records and the release of her debut album Heart On My Sleeve. A combination of pop, balladry and poetry, Lambert made the kind of record you don't usually get from a major label.
With her second studio album, Lambert amicably severed ties with Capitol Records. "I realized that I'm kind of a difficult artist to market: I'm a little complicated in terms of my output and what I'm creating and what my goals are, and I just don't think they really lined up with a label," Lambert explains. "I think it's difficult because I do spoken word, I write pop songs, I want to talk about Black Lives Matter, race and really difficult things. I don't think it was frustrating for the label but I think it was difficult." Lambert's departure opened her up to new opportunities, but still feels like a breakup. "It was a really kind of loving act for them to be able to let me out of my contract," she says. "It was so sweet, and I have nothing but good feelings about leaving, and I hope that they do too. It's like you're talking about an ex."
In May, Lambert dropped her first EP after leaving Capitol, Bold, which is unapologetically full of wistful, electro-pop goodness, queer love and a duet with her mom Mary Kay Lambert in honor of her marriage to her wife last summer. It shows a carefree version of Lambert, who is back to calling the shots.