Music has a long history of masked performers. Many have hidden themselves behind face paint and alter egos, blurring the line between person and artist and creating critical distance for their message to bloom. Dylan himself knew better than most the impact myth-making could have on one’s audience and art, but for pianist and instrumental songwriter Lambert, a Sardinian bull mask gives him something else, something he’s craved since he first started writing songs – freedom. Freedom to play a role, to be someone else, and to fully unleash his creative powers. “Everyone plays a role,” he argues. “So how do you even define ‘authentic artist’, or what is ‘true’?”
These are the questions Lambert wrestles with throughout True, his latest full length record and one that artfully frames a very modern dilemma. The Hamburg artists is a singular talent whose bold vision and compositional flair is informed as much by pop music and wider culture as it is by any classical repertoire. From 2017’s stunning Sweet Apocalypse, a masterful collection of orchestral works concerned with locating moments of beauty amid the dystopian future humanity is fast racing towards, to this year’s haunting, delicate Alone EP, Lambert has created his own, spellbinding sonic language that stirs the soul and inspires the mind. By turns hypnotic, sombre, and enchanting, he excels at creating moods and mesmerising the listener; a deep sense of drama often gives way to an enigmatic playfulness, colourful melodies skipping lightly through his songs.
True is no less beguiling and delightful, despite the seriousness of the subject matter it confronts. What is true and what is false, and how do we make such judgements? Such issues reflect our post-truth society, where opinions are conflated with facts and many cling blindly to beliefs even when confronted with cold, hard evidence.