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CQ Roundup with Seán Barna, Olive Klug, and an Exclusive Premiere from Sonia Leigh

By Christopher Treacy

Photo Credit: Rae Eubanks

Enjoy our new smattering of queer musical goodness, featuring the return of Tami Hart, the latest from LA folkie Olive Klug, and the Exclusive Premiere of an edgy single from Sonia Leigh.


Song of the Week: Olive Klug – “Parched”

Olive Klug returns to the CQ Roundup this week with a vulnerable new track about the lack of reciprocity in relationships. Some unions require more work than others, and sometimes one party is more willing to do that work than the other. It’s a new twist on a classic dilemma, told with a thoroughly modern tongue. Sometimes we become addicted to the hope that things will get better and an unhealthy cycle sets in, making us work overtime to keep that dream alive. Klug very effectively tells their story in shades of delicate indie-folk with plucked guitar and piano, using metaphors about the basic human need to quench thirst to illustrate what’s missing. Producer Ehren Ebbage expands the soundscape on the chorus, bursting the song open with a tonal wash that takes the track skyward. The results ache with heartbreak, but there’s a sense of valuable discovery that also comes across—the lesson learned is very necessary. The video clip, meanwhile, illustrates the story with deft imagination, as it features Klug and dancer Shannon Kelly interpreting the song through movement.

“When I was in middle and high school, I was really into lyrical dance,” Klug explained in accompanying press materials. “While I was listening to the initial mixes of this song, I found my body wandering into moves that mirrored the lyrics, and I was brought back to those memories; I really missed dancing! So with the help of my incredible director Anastasia, we were able to connect with dancer Shannon Kelly and choreographer Marie Spieldenner, who brought to life a partnered lyrical dance representation of ‘Parched.’ If you watch closely, you can see the movements creatively signifying many of the lyrical concepts in the song.”


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Olive Klug took time out to engage in a short Q&A with us that will post tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Exclusive Premiere: Sonia Leigh – “Thin Ice”

We’re thrilled to bring you an Exclusive Premiere of the new single from Sonia Leigh, a Georgia-to-Nashville transplant whose songwriting skills you may already be well familiar with and have just not known it—she wrote “Goodbye In Her Eyes” and Sweet Annie” for Zac Brown Band. You may also have caught her in an opening set supporting Eric Church, Melissa Etheridge or Blackberry Smoke, among many others. Leigh currently has three other projects she’s simultaneously involved in, two of which are hip-hop oriented, (TYGR/TYGR and Indica Girlz), and the other, ROB THE MAN, is steeped in something grungier. All three of those are poised to release new music this year, but it’s Leigh’s upcoming solo album that we’re hawking here today, and lead single “Thin Ice” comes out of the box swinging, kickin’ ass and takin’ names. As the organ fades in at the track’s start, it seems for a few seconds like we’re in for something hymnlike, but Leigh quickly switches gears, serving up a fully blown anthemic rocker ala Joan Jett. “Thin Ice” overflows with the sort of rise-above swagger most folks only wish they could conjure. Lucky for us, Leigh’s energy is contagious.

Pre-save the new track here.

“‘Thin Ice is a hard hitting anthem fueled with pure rock and roll energy,” Leigh explains. “With nods to the likes of The Killers, Bruce Springsteen, and Joan Jett,” (yep, we caught that right away) “its growl calls for burning down the barriers around one’s self to realize full potential. It highlights the feeling of walking a tightrope of self-doubt that can keep you in a self-created prison. ‘Thin Ice’ emulates the courage to step into your power and soar.”

Seán Barna – “Benjamin Whishaw Smiled”

Barna’s upcoming new album, An Evening at Macri Park (out May 12 on Kill Rock Stars), is conceptualized as a night out at a real-life queer watering hole in Brooklyn, providing character studies of the patrons… a queer “Piano Man” approach, only Barna’s music is more stylistically diverse. “Benjamin Whishaw Smiled” is rife with adventurous spirit and imagination: as Barna makes his way down 4th St., passing Dylan’s old flat and the spot where the cover of the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album was shot, he goes down a rabbit hole. Or is it? That’s the best part: the lines of reality blur, as do the lines of genre, in Barna’s musical world.

“As someone who has given up a life of stability to be an artist, the walk from the subway to your bartender job takes a daily toll,” Barna explains. “In my case, I walked through Greenwich Village, down W. 4th Street, past Bob Dylan’s early 60s home, past the photo setting for the cover of ‘Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ and, one day, passed actor Benjamin Whishaw eating at some bistro. He played Dylan in ‘I’m Not There,’ but in my song, he is my lover.”

Marchini & Young – “Rock and Roll Survivor”

Bobbi Marchini and Harry Young are two names well remembered from the Australian music scene of the 1970’s, but the pair never met until they were asked to appear in a series of nostalgia shows, where they did solo sets and performed a duet for the finale. This led to them writing and performing this new track, fittingly entitled “Rock and Roll Survivor.” Sung with a bittersweet sense of humor, the song tells a story all too real… with a bit of queer country twang.

Tami Hart – “Thanks For Saying Hi”

Seldom do we get to hear such delightfully underproduced, honest music. Twenty-plus years ago, Hart, who has close ties to Le Tigre and was a member of JD Samson’s band MEN, released No Light in August, an album that made NPR’s Ann Powers gush (in the New York Times) and earned her opening slots for Sleater-Kinney, The Butchies, and Indigo Girls. Now we’re gushing about the cow-punk spirit behind this new track from Hart’s forthcoming EP, due April 7 from Cruisin Records. With a contagious yelp and the slightest hint of a sneer, Hart proclaims, “Only a real love would make me change my mind,” and we believe her! At barely two minutes and thirty seconds, you’ll be hitting the repeat button to twist along…

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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