A.J. Lambert Takes the Night Highway to the Land of Better Dreams on “Staff of the Flag”

A.J. Lambert, photo courtesy the artist

Prepare for a figurative and somewhat literal ride with A.J. Lambert’s single “Staff of the Flag” from her forthcoming album Dirt Soda (due out July 2022). The music video helps to give this strange and unconventionally psychedelic music some context. We see flowers blooming in full color in the dark and then the view shifts to a seemingly endless, dark highway lit only be the headlights of the car in which you find yourself as the viewer. It seems like a lot of metaphor is packed into this song and its presentation or at least you can project plenty if you’re so inclined. Musically the song is reminiscent of a dark, psych Americana song as written by David Bowie with a female vocalist but with similarly deft dynamic shifts and a command of unconventional storytelling that can be a bit obtuse if you don’t connect with the symbolism right away. The title of the song seems to refer to the kind of psychological structure from which people hang their chosen identity and their source of pride. There’s a noir flavor to the song too and it mention’s Blackwell’s Corner, presumably the convenience store in Lost Hills, California 42 miles west-northwest of Bakersfield so really in the middle of nowhere. A perfect setting for a song with these visuals and a tale of awakening to one’s power and identity separate from whatever is around her. Part of the song seems to describe a symbolic dead end town and life situation that too many people romanticize – both those born to it and tourists from other places geographically and/or in life. But in the video we are part of a long night drive to contemplate what keeps people anchored to the familiar and the narratives that reinforce their own status quo. And the line toward the end of the song “A flag without a staff is just a blanket on the ground” really skewers the notion of some deeper meaning or significance of mere symbols that are the icons of our nostalgia and meant to keep us in line instead of headed toward where we want to be. But A.J. Lambert is taking that night road to a land of better dreams. When the flowers blossom in all their colorful glory like stars of a glorious future life on the horizon near the end of the video the symbolism seems pretty clear and this video truly does remind one of a music video directed by David Lynch as operating beyond standard logic. Watch that video on YouTube and follow A.J. Lambert on Spotify.