Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Buried Treasure, October 16

Waylon Payne. Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Welcome to another installment of Buried Treasure, Country Queer’s weekly roundup of fresh tracks from LGBTQ+ artists in country, folk, and Americana.

This week, we’ve got some new releases from Waylon Payne, Haunted Like Human, Gemma Laurence, Spencer LaJoye, Jessye DeSilva, and Lauren Phillips. It’s a bountiful fall harvest of tracks that center on reflection, acknowledgement, and becoming — perfect for the changing season and the last few days of communication-centric (and much-dreaded) Mercury retrograde. Keep an eye out next week for more to come!

-Annie

“Do You Feel It Too” by Waylon Payne

“Do You Feel It Too” is one of three new releases in The Lost Act — a follow-up EP to Waylon Payne’s critically-acclaimed album Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Pusher, and Me. It finds Payne turning his outlaw sensibilities to something softer: a burgeoning connection with a love interest that can’t be hidden or ignored any longer.

“That steady heartbeat in the nape of your neck always gave you away,” Payne points out, before achingly confessing to the complexity of the situation: “I pray to God every night that I won’t see you, and I pray that I do.” Grounded by gentle guitars and a piano that builds up as Payne asks right out “do you feel it too?”, the song is both tender and cautious, beautifully illustrating the tension of admitting to having feelings for someone and wondering if they feel the same.

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“September” by Haunted Like Human

This first track on Haunted Like Human’s new album Tall Tales and Fables may be titled “September,” but its rich indie-folk sound feels like a leaf-rustling October breeze. Reflecting on the tension of missing a lost love despite the carnage of the relationship they left behind, the song features a lush piano arrangement, steady accompanying guitars, and a swelling violin build.

As singer Cody Clark confesses just as the chorus builds, “I know you’re often tired, but darling so am I / I still searched for hours, but you didn’t even try.” It’s a classic sense of heartbreak, made urgent by the lingering desire to reconcile and the emotional resonance delivered by Clark and bandmate Dale Chapman.

“Adrienne” by Gemma Laurence

Mainer Gemma Laurence goes cottagecore on her intimate new single “Adrienne,” her first new release in two years and the first time she’s addressed her queerness in her music. Drawn from the lines of a poem by Adrienne Rich, Laurence’s “Adrienne” is vivid with the details of a friendship that’s clearly something more: a twin bed shared, the tastes of coffee and rum, and the anxiety of vulnerability that can creep in even with those we already hold close.

“You know I’ve been alone since God knows when, and I want to let you in,” warns Laurence, the urgency building in both her vocals and the fingerstyle guitar. “Adrienne” releases ahead of Laurence’s next EP Lavender, which draws inspiration from Joni Mitchell, Phoebe Bridgers, and Adrienne Lenker to cultivate a vulnerable and explicitly queer sound.

“Breathing” by Spencer LaJoye

Boston-based folk-pop musician Spencer LaJoye releases this single ahead of their upcoming EP Remember The Oxygen, out November 5. Originally borne from a truly spooky home-recorded concept album about the Netflix original The Haunting of Bly Manor, “Breathing” now finds a home on LaJoye’s debut EP under their “truest name.” 

“When I remembered to breathe my own oxygen rather than meeting and anticipating everyone else’s needs first, I learned a lot of things,” says LaJoye — including new revelations about their gender identity. A lens into the process of agency and self-acceptance that goes into claiming a nonbinary identity, the EP is sure to be a hit for fans of Mary Lambert and Sarah McLachlan.

“Sundays” by Jessye DeSilva

Also Boston-based and piano-centric, Jessye DeSilva is well-regarded for their reflective musical ruminations on growing up genderqueer in a conservative and devoutly religious family. In “Sundays,” a heartwrenching track recently performed live at Mouth Rot Sessions, they reflect on the religious turmoil that colored their childhood, singing “if I was good enough for heaven, maybe this could feel like home.”

Like in earlier release “Queen of the Backyard,” DeSilva looks back on these tough times with a clear sense of empathy — not only for the child they once were, but also extended to the family and community in which they found such strife. When they pull lyrics directly from the hymn “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” it’s sure to bring chills.

“Leaving LA” by Lauren Phillips

In the new music video for recent single “Leaving LA,” rising star Lauren Phillips searches for answers, cruising a Los Angeles landscape in a classic Blue Jeep. “My heart is on the floor, right there next to your dress,” she sings, exploring the familiar feeling of leaving behind a city to recover from an old relationship and start anew. 

Where Phillips takes this trope to new heights, and where “Leaving LA” really takes off, is the unabashed emotion that lies at the center of the song. Eschewing the trappings of metaphor, she goes straight for the heart in the chorus, admitting plainly “I don’t know if I’m gonna be okay without you here.”

Buried Treasure” is your weekly guide to new releases by queer artists in country, Americana, and folk. Know an artist who should be included? Contact us!