Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup With Sug Daniels, Mike Maimone, & Brittany Ann Tranbaugh

By Christopher Treacy

This year has blown by so quickly, it’s hard to believe we’re in late November… but here we are. The good new music keeps flowing, and this week is no exception! Without further ado…


Song of The Week: Brittany Ann Tranbaugh – “Christmas Flannel Song.”

Nothing like a new sad-cowgirl, slow dancing anthem to kick off the holiday season. Philly-based Tranbaugh’s songwriting is nothing if not clever, and the details she embellishes here are empowering while they tug at your heartstrings. Braving the holidays in the wake of a breakup, she’s left with a flannel purchased for her ex. But she looks pretty good in it, she thinks, and the soft sleeves absorb tears fairly well. The flannel becomes a metaphor for comfort, much like the way we might choose to scream into a pillow once in a while… it’s trusty, and it bears the brunt. “It’s more like a dirge than a carol,” she warns, but that’s just fine as she’s “donning her new gay apparel.” This is queer country gold of the highest order. Stay tuned later this week for a Q & A with Tranbaugh from the road to her Thanksgiving destination spot.

Mike Maimone – “Before He Cheats”

You know this song. Maimone takes us back to Carrie Underwood’s early, GRAMMY winning single from 2005, throwing his bluesy barroom stamp on it… with a gay twist, of course. Underwood was plenty believable as the wronged lover in her original, but with a few seemingly small musical changes, Maimone’s grittier presentation brings a new dimension of menace to the table. Instead of all that heavy-handed commercial country production, his lilted ivory-tickling takes the song to a more tangible place… a place in which a vengeful underdog can really see themselves reflected. A crowd favorite from his live shows, Maimone sends off 2022 with this fantastic cover.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Sug Daniels & John Faye – “Lightning in a Bottle”

Unlikely musical bedfellows, perhaps, but Daniels and Faye make this track soar with romantic optimism, sweetly sung with convincing enthusiasm and a pinch of soulful pop. Faye has a long career history, going back to his time as lead singer and songwriter for the Delaware alt-rockers The Caulfields in the mid ’90s. Daniels, meanwhile, is becoming a regular in the CQ Roundup with winning new singles every few months that showcase different aspects or her musical personality. This one’s so breezy, you might think it’s spring for few minutes—and who wouldn’t love that?

Liz Jones – “Temple”

One of many excellent tracks off of Jones’s solo debut, “Temple” takes humanity to task for our collective fallibility, knowingly poisoning our bodies (supposedly temples, per se) and wasting plenty of precious time doing it. “Our body is our temple until Friday night,” she sings—and we know she’s spot-on. Jones’s musical instincts are sharp, and here, the Scotland-based songwriter is channeling the best of breezy ’70s folk-pop with hints of country in the flourishes. “Temple” is a standout track for our purposes here, but all of the Bounty album is worth checking out.

Jon Campbell – “Fool’s Gold”

Berlin-based expat Campbell returns this fall with the indie-folk flavoring of “Fools Gold.” A sparse lyric leaves us with much of the heavy lifting—Campbell is forcing us to think. In this, the second installment in a diptych (beginning with “Edward” last spring), Campbell uses an arrangement of horns, accordion and bass to deliver a mournfully-toned meditation on duality and interdependence. Accompanied by a clip he directed and produced, “Fools Gold” is simultaneously pretty and disquieting. The clip is unsettling, but you can’t look away.

Olive Klug – “Out of Line”

Klug tells us they’ve been “…falling in love with reckless abandon/projecting my joy on pretty faces,” in this charming little folk ditty, which is something we can all identify with. A clever double entendre emerges about literally stepping out of line in an effort to stop an endless cycle of waiting, and becoming ‘out of line’ in the sense of going rogue. Klug is doing both and would like us to join them. They make it sound pretty inviting—where do we sign up? Actually, singing up just brings on more waiting. Klug wants us to just do it.

“‘Out of Line’ is a song about unlearning the rules you’ve been taught and deciding to write your own, Klug says in an accompanying statement. Throughout childhood, we’re told the right way to do things, the right way to ‘stay in line’ and follow the rules. ‘Out of Line’ is a call to action to question everything you’ve been taught. To question why you’re waiting and what you’re waiting for. It’s a call to experiment with your identity, to make mistakes, and to value joy over practicality.”

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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