Listen: Adam Lambert’s Beautiful Gay Rights Anthem

Adam Lambert

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote an open letter to Adam Lambert’s song “Never Close Our Eyes?” That track is not my jam, but like I said, Lambert still has a room in my heart.

And right now, that room is being rented by “Outlaws of Love,” a spine-tingling ballad from Lambert’s upcoming album Trespassing. I just heard it a few minutes ago, and I’ve already got it on repeat.

On the the most primal level, I love how this song sounds. In the beginning, Lambert’s voice is haunting and restrained, easing up to high notes and gently sliding off them again. That’s very difficult to do, technically speaking, and it gives dynamic energy to quiet music.

As the song builds, the singing stays rich and subtle while instruments drop in one by one. A guitar arrives, then some drums. A piano joins the fray, and eventually, Lambert himself gets loud. The overall effect makes me think of someone who’s trying to keep it together, who’s trying to handle himself in a hard situation. But he just keeps feeling and feeling and eventually… boom. His emotions explode.

That catharsis i more satisfying because the song’s about homophobia. It’s a cry of support for gay people who have been told their existence is wrong. “They say we’ll rot in hell,” Lamberts sings. “But I don’t think we will. We’re outlaws of love.”

There have been plenty of recent songs that have delivered similar messages, but hits like “Born This Way” and “Firework” and “F****n’ Perfect” focus on defiance and liberation. They empower us to dance our way to self-acceptance. But “Outlaws of Love” isn’t asking us to party. It’s defiant, yes, but it’s also wounded. And that’s a real part of being oppressed.

In other words, this song is a vital new entry in pop music’s ongoing conversation about letting people be themselves.

Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He recently recommended songs to celebrate Obama’s support of gay marriage.