By Christopher Treacy
Hearing loss is tough to reckon with for anybody, but it’s a particularly damning obstacle for a musician. Alaskan singer/songwriter Ava Earl, just 21, has accomplished a great deal in a lifetime that’s barely begun: four albums under her belt by the age of 18 and some high profile opening slots have helped her find an audience faster than most working musicians a few years her senior, but Earl is now coming to terms with permanent single-sided deafness in her right ear. Instead of letting this derail the momentum she’s gained, however, she’s working her way through it, using her creativity as a conduit for processing difficult feelings.
In contrast to the blow she’s been dealt, “Ears Bleed,” the second advance single from her new Zachariah Hickman-produced album Too Much, due out 9/15, sounds surefooted, clever and poised.
“After going deaf in my right ear, I was left with emotions that took months to unravel, sort, and explain,” she tell us in an accompanying statement. “Six months in, I thought I had come to a semblance of peace when this song tumbled out of me, surprising me with a pain that was still so palpable.”
It seems only logical that a diagnosis modified by the word ‘permanent’ might take a while to process, but the track is far from being a downer. Instead, Earl uses a melodic, folk-pop approach to relay her longing for things to be how they once were… so she can better recognize herself as she moves through life. While deafness may not be a universal struggle, the longing for familiarity is, thus presenting her circumstances in a way that we can all contextualize. “Ears Bleed” is striking for it’s penetrating imagery, for Earl’s gifted wordplay, her candor, and for being an infectious take on a tough topic.
For more about Ava Earl, listen to her music online and follow her socials!
The CQ Corral is an emerging feature at Country Queer that will bring you new music several times weekly, culminating every so often in the CQ Roundup our readers have come to expect. As the songs get covered in the CQ Corral, they’ll get added to our Rainbow Opry playlist on Spotify. As always, we’re looking for new artists and new material. If you think your work could be a good fit for coverage at CQ, fill out our submission form!
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.