Adam Lambert goes retro with ‘VELVET’.


More Is More, EMPIRE

The cover of Adam Lambert’s fourth studio album, ‘VELVET’.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

Known for his wide vocal range and flamboyant personality, American singer-songwriter Adam Lambert is the definition of a star.

Though he had been working professionally as a singer since 2001, he wouldn’t rise to mainstream prominence until early 2009 when he competed on the eighth season of American reality television series American Idol, immediately becoming a favorite of both the judges and viewers due to his impressive vocal abilities and commanding stage presence and ultimately finishing as the runner-up.

While he may not have won the season, Lambert would go on to become a major pop star with his debut album, For Your Entertainment. Released in November 2009, the record spawned the hit single “Whataya Want from Me”, which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and his second album, Trespassing, followed in May 2012 and reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200, making him the first openly gay artist to achieve this feat.

In June 2014, he found further success touring with the surviving members of legendary British rock band Queen as “Queen + Adam Lambert”, paying homage to the great Freddie Mercury and taking his career a step further.

His third album, The Original High, arrived in June 2015 and spawned the successful single “Ghost Town”, and while he continued to release solo material in the form of standalone singles, Lambert remained largely absent from the music scene between 2016 and 2019 as he toured with Queen + Adam Lambert. He also picked up a few acting gigs, appearing in American musical comedy television film The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again; the critically acclaimed biographical drama film about Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody; and English-language French animated comedy film Playmobil: The Movie, before revealing that a new album was on the way in January 2019.

He dropped “Feel Something” as his comeback single in February 2019 followed by several more singles throughout the year, including “New Eyes”; “Comin In Hot”; “Superpower”; “Roses” with iconic American singer-songwriter, musician, and producer Nile Rodgers; and “Velvet”, in the lead-up to the arrival of his fourth studio album, VELVET, in mid-March.

Preceded in September 2019 by an EP that served as a prelude to the record and contained six of its tracks titled VELVET: Side A, VELVET sees Lambert taking a new sonic direction with a sound that’s heavily inspired by the disco, glam rock, and funk music of the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, he described the songs as “thirteen slinky numbers to catch a vibe to”, and in an interview with Music Feeds, he spoke about his influences during the making of the album:

“I kinda tapped back into the kind of music that I listened to growing up. The classic stuff that my parents played in the 70s and 80s. I also started digging through playlists and more obscure music from contemporary acts that are also clearly influenced by retro stuff.”

Lyrically, VELVET is all about love from self-love to romantic love with a sexy, confident attitude that carries over every song.

The title track is a wavy bop about finding a love that fits you just right, opening the record with a nostalgic feel and setting the tone for the succeeding tracks. It also has a delightfully campy and Queer music video in which Lambert stars as a flashy fashion designer who’s a little bit of a narcissist, adding his sense of humor to the era as well.

“Superpower” and “Stranger You Are” are self-empowerment anthems that see him asserting that his confidence is his superpower and that the stranger you are, the more people are going to ridicule you, but it’s not your fault that they simply aren’t on your level; “Loverboy” and “Closer to You” are groovy love songs that showcase his powerful vocals; and “Comin In Hot” and “Over the Moon” are hot and heavy numbers about sexual intimacy with smooth production and a sultry vocal delivery that’ll make the listener melt into their seat.

On the closing track, “Feel Something”, Lambert opens up about his mental health struggles, expressing his desire to feel again after being numb for so long. It’s a gorgeous pop ballad with an angelic choir and a more modern contemporary sound that contrasts the rest of the tracklist in addition to a heavenly way to close out an album.

A pioneer for Queer artists on the mainstream music scene, Adam Lambert continues to reinvent himself and his sound in fresh, exciting ways, and VELVET is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream VELVET on Spotify: 

Watch the music video for “Velvet”: