Reviews

Adam Lambert “High Drama” Album Review

High Drama

Adam Lambert

  • Genre: Pop
  • Date: 24 Feb, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 11
  • Under Exclusive Licence to Warner Music UK Limited, ℗ 2023 More is More, LLC

Adam Lambert &Quot;High Drama&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 26, 2024

Adam Lambert is among the few modern performers who can truly master the art of song interpretation. The flashy singer, who was born in Indiana and raised in California, initially captured the attention of the general public during the 2009 American Idol finale. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most outstanding song curators in the world. Although Lambert has demonstrated this exceptional talent in his capacity as Queen’s frontman since 2011, it was his nuanced performance of Cher’s “Believe” at the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors in New York City that served as the impetus for him to create “High Drama,” his first comprehensive covers album.

The Queen showstopper and duly-established American Idol alumna pull it off with style on High Drama, an album of cover songs that finds a careful mix between the original and the well-known. The structure of a cover song is precisely that balance: a styled production that takes the artist’s core elements and wraps them in a more vibrant, contemporary sound. This interpretive body of work is nothing new to Lambert, who displays it immediately in the record.

Album Art

Adam Lambert &Quot;High Drama&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 26, 2024

The album cover features an enhanced picture of Adam looking away from the camera, with shattered glass fragments flying everywhere while he observes, unfazed. It is, in fact, in high drama mode. The shattered glass fragments symbolize the chaos and turbulence within Adam’s world, while his calm and collected demeanour portrays his resilience in the face of adversity. This captivating album cover perfectly captures the intense emotions and compelling storytelling that awaits listeners within the songs.

Tracks And Features

His unique take on covers helped him establish his reputation on American Idol, which is just what this album’s fifth instalment offers. Although Adam Lambert may have had a more successful career than Harry Styles, the latter is still the most commercially successful pop star from Simon Cowell’s talent TV conveyor belt. After finishing second on American Idol fourteen years ago, he created four hit albums and, naturally, opened up a whole new fan base by touring with Queen.

Songs like Sia’s hit “Chandelier,” Bonnie Tyler’s classic from the 1980s, and “Holding Out For A Hero” showcase Lambert’s explosive musicianship and sky-high falsettos. On another episode of High Drama, Lambert returns to the more comfortable territory as he joyfully gives in to the anthemic bombast of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero and indulges his love of classic soul with an imaginative rendition of Ann Peebles’ 1973 hit song, ‘I wouldn’t say I like The Rain.’ Missy Elliott introduced Lambert to the song when she sampled it for The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly), the breakthrough hit from her 1997 debut album.

The excellent star takes the appropriate liberties, such as adding mind-bending dance sounds to songs like “Sex on Fire.” At other times, he sticks to the source and is more conservative—like on P!nk’s “My Attic.” When buying a record from Lambert, the former takes precedence over the latter, so pardon him if it seems excessive. In “Getting Older,” Lambert demonstrates how a tempo shift—a reframed chorus, or in this case, the age of the singer singing it—can provide a piece, even one as recent as one by Billie Eilish, a new emotional channel to explore. Because of “High Drama,” no song is inadvertently included, and no guitar solo, drum fill, or pounding bass is inadequate to capture the fresh sound of great music.

Lambert is collaborating with renowned producers like Tommy English (Kacey Musgraves, Carly Rae Jepsen), Andrew Wells (Halsey, OneRepublic), and others to produce a record beyond a covers album. Instead, it is a masterful demonstration of composition and how to reinterpret music for new listeners. That is the expert at work, an accomplished musician. The musicians are united in song during the last act of High Drama, as demonstrated by “Mad About The Boy.” The song was written about unrequited gay love and the customs of the time by actor and writer Noël Coward over ninety years ago. The finest part about great covers is when Lambert sings about the enduring champions of inclusion and freedom coming together.

There won’t be any allegations of karaoke versions here because each song is comparatively distinct from the original. Some songs on High Drama, like “Holding Out For A Hero” and “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” are so familiar that it’s difficult to fathom anyone adding anything new to them. But Lambert gives the Bonnie Tyler classic a swaggering, glam-rock pace regarding Goldfrapp, reducing the verbiage. The Caribbean beat of the Culture Club classic has been entirely rearranged to create a whirling, enigmatic synth mood.

A few surprises can also be found inside the track listing. The Queen guitarist Brian May produced the album, so it’s no surprise Billie Eilish’s “Getting Older” has been radically rewritten. Meanwhile, Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast” has lost its dreamy polish and transformed into a full-on rocker featuring Lambert’s vocals at their strongest.

Furthermore evident is Lambert’s strong emotional connection to many of these songs. Pink’s My Attic likely alludes to the fact that he co-wrote his breakthrough hit, Whataya Want From Me, but most listeners would not be familiar with the album’s best song, I’m A Man. The song was initially performed by Jobraith, the first openly gay performer to be signed to a major label. Jobraith unfortunately died at the young age of 36 from Aids. Its placement here is an expression of gratitude for how artists like Jobraith paved the way for performers who are openly gay, like Lambert.

Adam’s vocalizations don’t create many misfires on the record; instead, the song selection is the cause of a few of them. This more rocky version of Sia’s “Chandelier” makes the song lose its pop shine and sound a little too bloated, while “Can’t Stand The Rain,” perhaps most renowned in its Tina Turner rendition, is one of those songs that has been covered so often that it’s hard to add anything new to it. It’s always a pleasure to hear Lambert belt out “Mad About The Boy,” “Ordinary World” is at least as good as the Duran Duran original. Still, this is undoubtedly a more successful cover album than most. Indeed, it’s entertaining even if it’s not necessary to listen to the proof that Lambert is an excellent interpreter of other people’s songs.

Tracklist

NO TITLE ARTIST TIME
1 You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) Adam Lambert & Sigala 3:25
2 Holding Out for a Hero Adam Lambert 3:49
3 Chandelier Adam Lambert 3:44
4 Ordinary World Adam Lambert 3:20
5 Getting Older Adam Lambert 4:24
6 I Can’t Stand the Rain Adam Lambert 3:15
7 West Coast Adam Lambert 3:39
8 Do You Really Want to Hurt Me Adam Lambert 3:44
9 Sex on Fire Adam Lambert 3:19
10 My Attic Adam Lambert 3:15
11 I’m a Man Adam Lambert 2:55
12 Mad About the Boy Adam Lambert 2:50

Album Summary

In a way, Lambert’s album High Drama is what you would have expected him to do following his time on American Idol. That show is where he first gained recognition for his skillfully selected cover renditions, which he then customized to suit his aesthetic. This is precisely what his fifth album is all about. While it’s always exciting to hear a performer put their unique twist on a well-known song, cover albums are rarely a complete hit; in fact, they can become a little monotonous after a while. However, High Drama is superior to most of these endeavours, mainly because of some astute decisions and Lambert’s consistently remarkable voice. The tracklist widens its net, capturing a mix of tried-and-true classics from the previous six decades and recently released, drastically altered songs by up-and-coming performers. High Drama is of such high calibre that it would be a disservice to characterize it as just a “covers” record.

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