Every time people start talking about Macklemore, someone points out that the best parts of his songs are almost universally sung by someone who isn't Macklemore. In "Same Love," that someone is Mary Lambert, and she's pretty damn awesome.
The video above is for her song "She Keeps Me Warm." If you recognize that line, it's probably because her chorus in "Same Love" provided the basis for this song. The difference is that in this one, she's also singing the beautiful, love-filled verses. It just so happens that the pronouns in the song make it about a lesbian relationship, but the feelings and message in the lyrics are pretty universal.
She's also not afraid to take her music to dark places—and her life has certainly held some darkness, including experiences with drugs, alcohol, a bipolar diagnosis, sexual abuse, and gang rape. This is "Sarasvati," which she wrote not long before attempting suicide several years ago.
On her blog, she writes about the song:
I was hesitant to put this song on the EP simply because it is so dark, and I never want to "bum anyone out". I'M A BLAST! I'm like a kitten playing with yarn in a basket you guys!
But part of being a vulnerable artist/babely babe means that I believe in equally sharing both my joys and my darkness with you. It's important to me that my audience understands that my story involves sadness. I think it's okay to be honest with ourselves and say "Yes. I have thought about suicide. I have been in a dark place." You're not crazy for it, you know? None of us are.
And if you watched either of those videos, you probably noticed that Mary Lambert doesn't buy into the idea that the only women worth paying attention to are the ones who are stick-thin. The spoken-word track "I Know Girls," which she re-released on her most recent EP as "Body Love," is all about the fucked-up way society treats the bodies of women and girls and the damage it does:
We flirt with death every time we etch a new tally mark
Into our skin
I know how to split my wrists like a battlefield too
But the time has come for us to
Reclaim our bodies
Our bodies deserve more than to be war-torn and collateral
Offering this fuckdom as a pathetic means to say
"I only know how to exist when I'm wanted"
Girls like us are hardly ever wanted you know
We're used up and sad and drunk and
Perpetually waiting by the phone for someone to pick up
And tell us that we did good.
Well, you did good.
In an industry where mainstream plus-size representation basically amounts to Adele, that's pretty wonderful to hear.
All of Mary's music is on her YouTube channel and Spotify, and you can buy it on Amazon and iTunes. Her website is also worth checking out, in part because her writing—on music, body positivity, her identity as both a lesbian and a Christian, and life in general—is funny and friendly and touching but also because her posts are full of comments from people (many of them young women and girls) who have been touched by her words.
To borrow a phrase from one of her blog posts: Mary Lambert is a wonderbeing with skin on.