By Christopher Treacy
There ought to be clowns…
I’m low on rhetoric this week, but that’s alright since we’re rich with new tunes. Amy Ray returns with her first new solo music since 2018’s ‘Holler’ and it is queer country heaven… if you believe in that sort of thing. Minnesota duo Keep for Cheap have blessed us with a video premiere for one of their new album’s prettiest offerings, and Brian Falduto’s “Same Old Country Love Song” is so awesomely gay, your device will turn pink and grow fringe as it plays. Chow down!
Song of the Week: Brian Falduto – “Same Old Country Love Song”
The new Brian Falduto single is pure up-in-your-grill gay fun. Falduto takes something obvious and pulls it apart in a way that’s both tongue-in-cheek-amusing and disarmingly honest. All the while, he underscores an ugly truth about the country mainstream. The good news? Queer country artists are steadily gaining on the commercial mainstream in their own quirky ways. The bad news? There isn’t any.
Stay tuned for a Q&A with Brian Falduto tomorrow and, in the meanwhile, have fun with “Same Old Country Love Song.”
Exclusive Premiere: Keep For Cheap – “Hide My Emotion”
File under: Sapphic Brokeback.
Minneapolis duo (and real life couple) Keep for Cheap’s new album, Bundle, showcases fantastic musical versatility. Gorgeous, folksy, fem-harmonies provide the glue for the album’s mixed bag of roots-tinged indie rockers and more contemplative ballads. There’s no mistaking the driving edge in “The Time” and “Checkout,” but tunes like “Bedside” and this one, “Hide My Emotion,” show off a more tender side.
“Hide My Emotion” portrays the complicated inner struggle of debating how and when we show our queer selves to each other and whether or not we’re in complete control of disclosure. The new clip for it, premiering exclusively today here on Country Queer, is hella charming. Coming at the topic with sly bits of humor and an idyllic lesbian farm fantasy (with some ‘Dutch courage’ thrown into the mix—another factor that can seriously impact impulse control), Keep For Cheap reveal yet another side to their creative chops, and it’s impressive.
Amy Ray (Feat. Sarah Jarosz) – “A Mighty Thing”
Indigo Girl Amy Ray returns with new solo material this week: “A Mighty Thing” is the first single from her forthcoming album, If It All Goes South (Daemon Records, 9/16) —a genius double entendre title for what sounds to be another country-leaning album from Ray made during a time of crippling uncertainty in our world.
“A Mighty Thing” is a plucky, freewheeling Americana tune with some subject-appropriate country gospel leanings, as Ray recounts her struggles with the ills of organized religion vs. the tenets of spirituality. Inspired by the impassioned delivery of the line “You can’t beat that deal!” by a preacher at a friend’s funeral, the song reflects the confusing experience of many LGBTQ+ folks who were simultaneously fed concepts of forgiveness and self-loathing in youth. As Ray declares in the first verse, “Don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin/I add it up, it don’t make sense.”
Ray packs a lot of imagery into just over three minutes, and a lot of ace musicianship as well. As she details in the accompanying press release, this was the final song recorded for the album, and Sarah Jarosz came straight from the airport to the studio where Ray and Co. were working to lay down her mandolin track and harmonies. The video clip captures the occasion. Ray has been playing with the same band for long enough now that their performances exude uncommonly tight musical chemistry. The whole unit really shines, here, but Alison Brown’s banjo and Daniel Walker’s Hammond B3 organ nearly steal the show. And of course… Jarosz.
Anna Tivel – “The Dial”
Inspired by the experience of finding a dream catcher littered (along with other trash) out the window of a car in front of her, Tivel wrote “The Dial” on the back of a gas receipt in the kind of moment that only performing artists could imagine… but the song’s overall sentiment of moving in circles is much more largely relatable.
Suffice to say, touring can be tough. “Driving all over the place playing songs about my feelings for strangers is serious business to me, a deep devotion and a privilege,” she explained in a press release. “And it’s also sometimes totally nuts, like some hilarious simulation where you keep finding yourself peeing through a funnel drilled in the floor of a shitty van outside the place where you just poured your heart out in front of three drunk people who kept asking the bartender to turn the TV back on.”
“The Dial” merges gritty, southern sensibilities with some industrial punctuation, making unlikely musical bedfellows come together rather magically. Given that NPR Music hailed Tivel’s 2019 album, The Question, as “One Of The Most Ambitious Folk Records of 2019,” we’re excited to see where she takes us on her new album, Outsiders, due 8/19 from Mama Bird Recording Co.
Celine Ellis – “Leave the Light On”
There’s plenty of great energy in this new heartland rocker from UK-based Ellis. A crowd-pleaser from her live shows that she’s just recently recorded, the song touches on the bitter pill of singing to empty barrooms and being away from the comforts of home while pursuing dreams in middle age. Some might say that being a touring independent musician is a young person’s game, but Ellis is undeterred. And it’s paying off: in 2021 she was featured on BBC Introducing, while previous single, “Fallen Angel” hit #6 on one of the iTunes charts. “Leave the Light On” may touch on some difficult emotions, but as a musical vehicle for them, it’s breezy and anthemic, recalling shades of early Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Gabriel Gomez – “Not My Own”
Hailing from Venezuela but now based in London, Gomez grew up with parents that were enthusiastic about country and folk music—and you can definitely hear it. “I don’t have a southern accent, or any native English speaker sound, but I do feel passionate about country and folk music every time I write or perform,” Gomez told us. “I want to create a space where any Latino or Queer folk can feel represented in these genres.” Full of palpable longing and a memorable chorus, “Not My Own” treads that familiar territory when you realize how much of yourself you lost in a love affair and the promises we make to ourselves (and perhaps to others) about not letting it happen again. Gomez definitely strikes a relatable emotional chord with this one.
Lynne Hanson – “Hip Like Cohen”
This new clip from Hanson’s ninth album, Ice Cream in November, is a bit of autobiographical fun. Hanson recounts her own youthful aspirations of fame and how they’ve mellowed—but who can deny wanting to be hip like Leonard Cohen? You’ve got to cut her some slack, because even when Cohen released records that were greeted with a chilly response (and there were a handful). he still oozed cool like very few of his peers. His lack of interest in defending his work gives him a leg-up on Joni Mitchell, even. Hanson keeps the mood light with little bits of girl-group pastiche as she negotiates the path of acceptance after, “…reality Introduced me to the concept there was a ceiling to being me.” We think most folks can relate to that moment, and Hanson’s plain-stated honesty is refreshing.
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 lives in Waitsfield, VT.