By Christopher Treacy
Several tracks in this week’s CQ Roundup are about how perspectives shift in time, which reminds that nothing is permanent, especially the way we feel at any given moment. Elated? Enjoy it while you can. Feeling defeated? This too shall pass. Remembering this helps keep us in the moment, which can be challenging. That’s enough outta me.
Song of the Week: Blake Rave – “Albatross”
Plenty to think about here. Have you ever been in a romantic or sexual situation with someone you know you shouldn’t be? We bet you probably have. Rave’s new single presents a character in an emotionally precarious position, involved with a man who’s already taken. But the currents are strong, so he keeps going back despite the accumulating damage. Between open relationships and the age-old penchant for cheating, this is a story that speaks to the queer male experience perhaps more than other demographics (though it certainly has universal threads). Set to a soundscape that floats in a dream world, Rave really nails the bittersweet sensation of being stuck in between realities when we give in to temptations we know we probably shouldn’t… or maybe it’s not that cut and dry.
Either way, it can be tough getting through the day with that big-assed bird around your neck. We liked it enough to make “Albatross” our new Song of the Week and have a Q&A with Rave coming tomorrow.
Reilly Downes – “Wicked Game”
Chicago-based Downes returns this fall with the first new release since her Spent EP dropped over the summer, putting a fem-spin on this beloved Chris Isaak tune. Downes remains pretty true to the original, which already had an Americana feel, and her soaring soprano does Isaak proud.
Brian Falduto – “Hottest Guy Here”
Falduto’s got a radio-friendly formula going on – his determination is impressive. In “Hottest Guy Here,” he turns the tables on the usual bar-pickup scene not only by making it gay, but with a clever kiss-off twist: dude smiles, gets cold real fast, bolts but forgets his wallet, Falduto buys everyone drinks all night. It’s charismatic and amusing, not to mention toe-tapping and tuneful.
Lucy Dacus – “Home Again”
Dacus switches things up on this cover from Carole King’s Tapestry, pulling out the piano that dominates the original and letting Jacob Blizard take the lead with a plucky, chiming guitar riff. Originally recorded to accompany a limited edition vinyl ‘vault’ release of King’s Central Park concert from 1973, put out by Jack White’s Third Man label earlier this year, now is the first time this cover (along with its B-side, “It’s Too Late”) is available for streaming.
Mary Bragg – “Panorama”
“Panorama” was a single earlier this summer that got past us, but it’s included on Bragg’s new self-titled full length, which just arrived last week, giving us an excuse to include it in the Roundup now. A cinematic trip back in time, Bragg creates a metaphor about widening perspectives here, driving home the notion that sometimes we are only able to see things for what they are when we are willing to look at them from a different vantage point… often one that is less comfortable for us, but this is how we arrive at the truth. Bragg’s warble is simply gorgeous here, wrapped around a stealthy Americana arrangement that matches the tone of the lyric beautifully.
Joy Oladokun feat. Chris Stapleton – “Sweet Symphony”
Oladokun’s fourth new song this year is inspired by the love between her parents that she observed growing up. Looking at her current life and reflecting back, she outlines the characteristics of a love that endures, set against a vintage keyboard. Stapleton enters at the second verse, and together they celebrate the triumph of love that conquers all—”together through ups and the downs, dungeons, and ivory towers”—as the track builds to a soulful crescendo.
Cris Williamson – “O Virginia”
Pioneering lesbian singer-songwriter Williamson’s new album Harbor Street dropped over the summer, but she’s just announced some album release shows, giving us an excuse to include “O Virginia” this week. A reflection on a love long passed that brims with fond, sepia-toned memories (and longing), the reedy husk that’s developed in Williamson’s voice over time is used to great effect, here, amid jaunty fiddles and mandolin. See her tonight at Passim in Cambridge, Friday in Ogunquit, ME or next week in Goshen, MA.
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 is the Managing Editor of Country Queer and currently lives in Waitsfield, VT.