Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup, June 22

By Christopher Treacy

Never underestimate queer creativity.

I’m at a loss for a thread running through this week’s selections or a parallel I can draw between them and my own experiences this past week. I suppose that’s worthy of comment in and of itself: sometimes the only thread is the queer one. We’re making all sorts of art, some of it on the fringes, some of it closer to the mainstream. We’re using the pronouns that speak our truth even if it makes some folks scratch their heads and challenges them to rethink societal norms. Perhaps especially when it serves either of those two functions, but first and foremost, so we can be comfortable in our own skin and create music that truly reflects who we are. The rest? Well, the rest doesn’t matter nearly as much. Cheers.


Song of the Week: Charles Mercy – “The Crime”

Theatrical and bluesy with a slight sinister edge, “The Crime” is also toe-tapping and immediately likeable. It’s a simple seeming tune, but there’s more going on just beneath the surface. A crime has been committed. Is that literal, or metaphoric? Is it a crime of the heart? A crime of passion, per se? Or, did someone rob a bank? Regardless, we get the impression that Mercy isn’t really all that sorry. Jules Indelicato’s vocal throws a gender twist into the track, which was written by Lauren Tabak and produced by Chuck Prophet. Musically, it’s a mix of 60’s girl-group pop with an Americana twist. The song is part of a larger project, a ‘lesbian western’ entitled, The Adventures of Charles Mercy. We reached out to the song’s creators with a few questions, so check back later this week for more information and, in the meanwhile, enjoy, “The Crime.”


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

River Westin – “Old Love”

River Westin’s latest is his most lush, dreamy track yet and, clocking in at just 2:20, it’s over way too fast! Echoing the vintage tones of Les Paul & Mary Ford, “Old Love” is a breezy slow dance in an almost empty honkytonk, a cherished moment where someone promises to be truer than the last person who shared that kind of intimate space with you. He’s believable, if only in just that moment.

Zack Joseph – “Time’s Just a Number”

Joseph sounds ready to share a root beer float at the pharmacy soda counter and hit the sock hop with his date on this new, ‘early-rock’ inspired single. He recently shared with us that he wrote the song about someone he was seeing at a time when he wasn’t fully out, and so making use of innuendo in the narrative seemed appropriate. Because, y’know, in the mid-century times that the tune is musically referencing, just about everything was riddled with innuendo. In this case, it’s a winning combination.

Erika Jonsson – “Rootless”

If she hadn’t told us, we’d never have guessed that Erika Jonsson hails from Sweden, where she’s been making a name for herself in country music since 2014. The title track of her new album, Rootless, is a hoot: sassy and daring, it’s twangy country-rock with just a hint of outlaw snarl. We also liked “Don’t Kiss Cowboys,” and her debut single, “Sången om värmland” which has nearly 9 million Spotify streams and is sung in her native tongue. If this isn’t proof-positive of the widening scope of queers in Country…

Brooke Annibale – “5 AM”

The production polish on Brooke Annibale’s latest is rife with pop sheen, but it retains a penetrating depth of feeling. It recalls those times when were unsure if we’re imagining the deep connection we’re sensing with someone else—those moments when you’re wondering, “Am I feeling this only because I want it to be true, or is it actually happening?” “5 AM” effectively captures this fleeting sensation on the precipice of a breakthrough… or a heartbreak.

Melanie Beth Curran – “Say That You Will”

Curran’s slightly raspy drawl reminds of Lucinda Williams on this moody track. Though released last year, we’re including the song in this week’s Roundup because Curran has just released a new video clip for it that expounds on the lyric. Underscoring the concept of healing through same-sex connection, a friend finds comfort after a man-tryst ends. The particulars are vague, but Curran says the overarching theme is about seeking solace in difficult times and facing the mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic.

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.

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