CQ Roundup with Jaimee Harris, Mya Byrne, and Jessie Haines
By Christopher Treacy
It’s a compelling mix of light and dark this week, but they’re all great tunes. Newcomer Jessie Haines nabbed Song of The Week with an infectious ode to toxic love and Mya Byrne reminded us that life’s not a race. Jaimee Harris and Steven Taetz issue two very different kinds of warnings and Joel Brogon contemplates how best to move forward when it seems like all might be lost. It’s a noursishing emotional feast… best bring your appetite, y’hear?
Song of The Week: Jessie Haines – “I Love You”
Haines is readying the release of her debut album, The Phoenix, which is said to follow the arc of a toxic tryst. “I Love You” must be from early on in the downhill trajectory, because it’s a totally blissed-out blast of fresh, spring air… which we can really use it right about now. With its breezy, vintage So-Cal vibe and such a sweetly sung vocal line, this was easy prey for the new Song of the Week, and Haines is answering some questions for us about the album and how this song (the third single from it) fits into the scheme of things. Stay tuned!
Mya Byrne – “It Don’t Fade”
“It Don’t Fade” is shot through with a welcoming, warm, retro-country sound that makes it immediately familiar and likeable, but this is one of those increasingly rare occasions when the video clip seals the deal. Mya’s recurring grin throughout the clip radiates gratitude and joy in a song that reminds us: it’s okay to take your time getting to where you need to go, wherever that may be. Maybe she’s also saying that it’s okay to be stuck, provided that we’re not harming ourselves of letting fear run the show. Mya reminds us to enjoy the process and not to be too stuck on a perceived end goal to do so. The production is tight, but not slick, and her delivery is confident—the best yet. And there’s much more to come… Rhinestone Tomboy arrives April 28 on Kill Rock Stars Nashville.
Joel Brogon – “My Faded Love”
Brogon wrote in to let us know about the context of this beautifully sung, sorrowful tune, which he says addresses folks whose partnerships didn’t weather the strain of the pandemic. We’re all tired of hearing about the “unprecedented times” but it’s true: the emotional toll of the last few years continues to reveal itself in surprising, sometimes devastating ways. “Where do we go from here, my faded love?” he croons on the chorus. The song is simple, leaving plenty of room for us to project our own memories onto it, which makes the sense of loss that much more palpable.
Jaimee Harris – “The Fair and Dark Haired Lad”
Rife with an appropriately sinister tone, Harris personifies alcoholism as ‘the fair and dark haired lad,’ an uninvited guest who worms his way in and, once established, doesn’t bother hiding himself anymore. Eventually, the lad “takes the seat at the table that my daddy once had.” Harris has never been shy about discussing her own status as someone n in recovery, making her a prime storyteller for a tale like this one—a tale she has lived to tell. It’s the song’s description of addiction’s insidious nature that’s so chilling, bolstered by a dark-folk, southern-gothic sound on this Mark Hallman-produced stunner. Harris’s forthcoming Boomerang Town (out February 17 on Thirty Tigers) is a song cycle about the destructive patterns that sometimes keep small town folks stuck. “The Fair and Dark Haired Lad,” is all his various forms, is certainly one of them. Each of the album’s tracks has a video component; this one, filmed and edited by Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabrie, brims with a psych-horror vibe that effectively drives home the song’s mix of terror and caution with the slight glimmer of a hopeful ending.
Steven Taetz – “Making Room”
Taetz’s second single from his forthcoming album Late Bloom, (out 2/16) is a declaration. “If you don’t change your mind or change your tune, then I’m making room,” he announces, set against a track that oozes a tidy, early-rock feel, tempered by bits of something grittier. When we premiered the video earlier this week, Taetz told us that the song has a subtext. On the surface, the narrator is giving an ultimatum to a lover. But on another level, the song is about not putting up with environments that won’t make a space for queer folks, and that can qualify any number of ways. The clip dresses it up well, keeping it sexy rather than making it seem like a petulant demand. In fact, delivered this way, we’re being reminded why we might want to comply. Also, we can’t help but wonder: how many vases were harmed in the making of this video? Steven??
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’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.
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