By Adeem Bingham, Contributing Writer
It’s tough to know where to begin with Cidny Bullens. You’ve doubtlessly heard his warm, lachrymose vocals staining the Grease soundtrack, accenting an Elton John performance in the background, or front & center in one of his many albums that effortlessly span the spectrum of pop, rock, singer-songwriter, and Americana.
It’s easy to see how Cidny has pushed the genre lines throughout his expansive career in the music industry, but with his new single, he takes aim at “The Gender Line” with a stunning portrait of his own privation. The song is as vulnerable as it is declarative; delivered with the tenderness of giants like Jackson Browne or Rod Stewart, with rich, devastating emotional wisdom.
“If you were me, what would you do? You look in the mirror and it’s not really you.” The lyrics are a conversational appeal to the imagination of the listener and immediately wade into the deep waters of the track – also well explored in the 2019 documentary of the same title. What is it like to rearrange the letters of a name and everything that means to you?
In an interview with Out Magazine a few years ago, Cidny reflected on a memory of being twelve years old and thinking, “I’m going to have to pretend to be a girl the rest of my life.” And I think that’s where the profundity is buried. There is so much tension at play throughout this song; it’s greasing the timbre of his voice as he croons, “There’s a car in the drive but [it] can’t take me over the gender line.”
But the torment is tempered by a little whisper of hope that swells like a wildfire. It’s this subtle switch of pronouns in the second chorus that lights the spark. Cidny talks about a young man who took his own life and nobody can imagine a reason – but Cidny sees the car in the driveway, the train at the station…they couldn’t take her over the gender line.
The song sits in this crisp and well-produced bed of acoustic instruments with a lovely, swimmy lead guitar and Cid’s tea-stained voice relaying this sober asseveration: you are who you are. “If they don’t see you, I see you,” he seems to be saying, as he resolves, “I had to crawl over the gender line.” He doesn’t have to pretend to be a girl anymore, and with that, he gives us permission to unapologetically embrace our honest selves.
“The Gender Line” will be available on all services on Monday, July 13. Watch for his album, “Walkin Through This World”, out August 2nd.