By Christopher Treacy
We are humbled to bring you a new CQ Roundup brimming with so much great music, we’d be selfish to clog the airwaves with any of our blathering. So, without further ado…
Hayden Joseph – “Country to Me”
The title track from Hayden Joseph’s new full length album revels in the sort of spirit that’s made Country Queer a destination spot for so many music lovers. “Well, there’s more to this life than babes and beer cans/But those FM waves ‘aint ever sayin’ so,” he croons in the second verse, reminding us all that there’s a wide world of stories out there going beyond the scope of what mainstream country radio choooses to highlight. We hear ya, Hayden! That’s why we’re here. “Country to Me” is anthemic and assertive – a sweetly sung but surefooted declaration from one of Queer Country’s biggest up-and-comers.
Nora Kelly Band – “Lay Down Girl”
The first single to come from their newly inked deal with Mint Records is a pep-talk Kelly wrote for herself – a reminder about people-pleasing tendencies. “Other people’s approval had been my priority for so long that over time my connection to what I liked and what I wanted had become weak,” she explained in a press release. The resulting track, which will be on the Montreal band’s debut full length, Rodeo Clown (out August 25), is a slice of jangly, alt-country heaven with just the right balance of cow-punk edge with production shine. The video clip adds additional queer twists.
Adam Mac & Jenna DeVries – “Chapel”
“Disco Cowboy” Adam Mac and “Drunk Girls” gal-pal Jenna DeVries have teamed up again for this “…sultry and fresh take on a Bonnie and Clyde-esque love affair,” after first dazzling us a few months back with their cover of Sam Smith’s stunner, “Unholy.” “Chapel” is sassy, sexy, and just the right amount of swampy, ticking all the right boxes with a churchy, revival-vibe that showcases both sets of pipes in complimentary light. Country has always gone in hard with recurring, co-ed, double bill duets, from Dolly & Porter to Bobbie and Glen, from Tammy & George to Dottie & Kenny… and the list goes on. Welcome to the fold, y’all – you’re in some fine company.
My Sister, My Brother – “Cry Me a River”
My Sister, My Brother, the songwriting duo of Garrison Starr and Sean McConnell, released “Cry Me a River” a few weeks back. The pair’s first new music together since their self-titled 2020 EP turns out to be well worth the wait. “Cry Me a River” (no, not the Arthur Hamilton torch classic) is soulfully rendered with gorgeous vocal performances that find Starr and McConnell pushing each other to new heights – at times, it sounds like it’d be right at home on a Parry Griffin album. Led by piano and violin eventually giving way to a full string ensemble, it feels like an emotional watershed… because it is.
Marc Silver – “Dancing with Dorothy”
Missouri-native Marc Silver’s a jazz-trained artist that’s taken his musicianly knowhow and channeled it into seven albums of diverse music textures. That said, it’s a rootsy thread that unifies his work and his choice of string-based instrumentation, often veering toward Americana, that brings him to CQ. “Dancing with Dorothy” has a New Orleans funk feel that instantly brings Little Feat to mind… just try and stay still during this track. We think it’ll prove difficult.
Maia Sharp – “Kind”
2021’s Mercy Rising was a turbulent record. Sinewy, troubled and emotionally torn, Sharp wrote a cycle of songs that spoke to our human underbelly… and the need for redemption, in all its various forms. It’s too early to tell what tone Reckless Thoughts will take, due out August 18, but if lead single “Kind” is any indication, Sharp sounds remarkably at peace. Co-written with Mindy Smith and Dean Fields, the track takes the focus off of our petty differences and puts it on human decency – where it belongs. Overall the mood is light, set to a jaunty Americana track and a relaxed vocal that reflects reframed priorities. Perhaps it’s all a reflection of Sharp’s move to Nashville from California, a change that seems to suit her better than she’d imagined. “I never thought I would leave California,” she said in a press statement. “Once I did, I had a feeling it would be easier to build a community in Nashville, but I had no idea how much easier it would be. It’s really tapped into something I didn’t know I needed so badly.”
KAZIMI – “River Run”
New York-based singer-songwriter KAZIMI’s debut single “River Run” exists somewhere at the crossroads of indie-folk-pop, a warm electro-organic breeze that recalls the mellow moodiness of Zero 7. The narrative implies a ‘get out of dodge’ journey – the need to move beyond the circumstances that were born into in favor of something – however ironic – more suitable. It’s not always easy to make those moves, but KAZIMI seems content to take her time finding her way. In the accompanying press materials, she shared that, “Making this record, I learned over and over that timelines are not always going to work out the way you think they will. I’ve thrown so many dates out the window because the music wasn’t ready.” The music definitely sounds ready now.
Lindsay White – “Disappearing”
Motherhood can be bittersweet. San Diego’s Lindsay White has not been one to shy away about writing what’s on her mind – last year’s “No Stopping It” detailed her battles with anxiety and it’s many manifestations, both before and after having a baby. This time out she’s looking at society’s expectations of mothers and the impact of child rearing on identity. It’s a tough nut, but White’s coated her bitter pill in a spare, soulful groove that’s truly buffered for the stomach. “The way our society simultaneously reveres and disappears working-class mothers and default parents can feel like a very specific kind of gaslighting,” White said in the accompanying statement. “But when I think about how that experience aligns with the under-resourcing of teachers, healthcare professionals, essential workers, veterans, and so many more so-called ‘heroes,’ it’s just one of many ways this country showcases its toxic trademarks of hypocrisy and exploitation.”
Bowman – “Maple”
Nashville-based Steven Bowman has made a career for himself as a multi-instrumentalist and producer, but “Maple” is the beginning of something new, a solo music project that explores, “themes of identity, crisis of faith, and the complicated formative years of our youth.” This, the first track in a series about his upbringing, is a mournful and haunting tale about a ghost… and other things we don’t talk about. Set to weeping strings with a tambourine gently keeping time, Bowman sings of the unspeakable, letting light shine on the secrets we’ve wasted so much energy protecting each other from. These are the stories we tell ourselves… and sometimes we let them define us.
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.
Got new music? Submit it to CQ.