On Feb. 24, Adam Lambert released his fifth studio album “High Drama.”
Clocking in at thirty-eight minutes, the album consists of 11 cover songs from artists like Bonnie Tyler, Sia and Billie Eilish.
This album marks Lambert’s first studio endeavor since 2020’s VELVET and his first album entirely of tracks not his own.
Beginning with the 1980’s power ballad “Holding Out for a Hero,” originally by Bonnie Tyler, this opener is without a doubt the highlight of “High Drama.” Lambert especially pushes to make the track his own, slowing the tempo considerably to create a progressive rock sound.
For the remaining 10 songs, Lambert stays more faithful to the original, though he still takes risks. The album’s second track, a cover of “Chandelier” by Sia, features a ‘90s sound, almost reminiscent of the grunge era.
On the album’s third track, Lambert flips directions, replacing the guitars and rock in the first two songs with a stripped-down piano version of Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World,” a clear shift from the heavy percussion which dominated the original.
Lambert then covers a more recent tune, “Getting Older” from Billie Eilish’s 2021 album “Happier Than Ever.” While the original is quite mellow in its own right, Lambert’s vocal delivery makes for a powerful performance, turning the track into a full-on rock ballad.
Next in the track list is Tina Turner’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” Lambert’s interpretation features a more modern-sounding percussion loop and a higher vocal register, which Lambert delivers with ease and brilliance.
The cover of Lana Del Ray’s “West Coast” once again showcases Lambert’s experimentation with the genres of the original songs, replacing Del Ray’s mellow performance with a killer hard rock/grunge performance.
One of the album’s most sonically different tracks is the cover of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” Although the song stays faithful to the original, the tuned-down percussion creates a rift between the two. In the original 1982 track, the song possessed a tropical feel thanks to its rhythm, but Lambert’s is more stripped back, spacy and atmospheric.
If you’re looking for new Lambert material, “High Drama” might not be the album for you. Rather than writing and recording all new work, Lambert instead pays respect to his influences and favorite songs while simultaneously taking them to a different place in the minds and ears of listeners.
In spite of the album being a great experiment in reinterpreting classic tracks, the only real stand-out I heard was the cover of “Holding Out for a Hero.” Some of the other songs were good, but not great, leaving listeners much to be desired.
Though the album can feel disjointed and unfocused due to the various sonic and genre changes, the one constant is Lambert’s amazing vocals, which hold a sense of power and, as the title would suggest, drama.
While some may be disappointed to not receive “Lambert originals,” to blame him for an awful performance would be crude considering he has been touring with legendary rock band Queen for much of the past decade. Lambert is at a point in his career where he does not need to impress anyone, and rather, can make the music he wants to make. This is exactly what “High Drama” is, a passion project where Lambert can perform the songs he loves.
Out of 10 stars, “High Drama” warrants four.