Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup with Wesley King, Kaleb Rudy and Chelsea Silva

By Christopher Treacy

I am repeatedly taken aback by talent when I put this together each week—and that’s coming from someone that’d adopted a curmudgeonly attitude toward new music just five or so years back. In the interim, I stopped writing for local newspapers and took a job at a record shop. These might seem like useless details, but of the two events, it was actually leaving newspapers that had the most related benefit: I was able to look up from what was happening locally to take in a wider array of music. When you’re tethered to a weekly arts calendar to determine what you’ll be writing about, it drastically narrows your scope… particularly if it’s not in an urban metropolis. Either way, it’s all happening just fast enough to make it challenging to pay attention to what’s going on outside that bubble. And so, you fall back on old standbys when you have those rare moments of leisure. The Roundup forces me to check out new tunes, every week, consistently. Not everything is a good fit for CQ, but the process provides me with an amazing portal to becoming acquainted with artists from all over the world, many of whom are just starting out. Here’s the latest edition…

-CT

Song of the Week: Chelsea Silva – “Frontline”

Silva’s second single comes in the form of this shimmering new beauty which sparkled so bright, we made it Song of the Week. “Frontline” twists and turns in some unexpected ways as Silva defies pop formulas in favor of delivering something very much her own. The song is a meditation in mental illness, told from multiple angles. The non-linear storyline is mysterious and riveting. We love the way it provokes thought by dropping clues. And the singing? DAMN. Silva hails from Australia, where she’s readying the release of her debut EP. We reached out to ask her some questions about “Frontline” and she obliged. The Q&A will run tomorrow. Meanwhile, slip into this…


Wesley King – “I Won’t Mind”

Alabama-to-Nashville transplant Wesley King has many irons in the fire: he’s an ordained minister, a composer and arranger, a singer-songwriter, and he’s also the conductor and Artistic Director of Nashville in Harmony, Nashville’s 100 voice LGBTQ choral organization. “I Won’t Mind” is the first single from his upcoming full length album, Wild & Holy, out in later February. King strikes a near-universal chord with this plaintive piano ballad that’s spiked with a hint of anger veiled behind its resigned tone. Sometimes we’re left with the distinct impression that we’re ‘the one that got away.’ Most of the time, we never get to find out if we actually inspired those sentiments. But just as we’re prone to letting others rent space in our heads from time to time, we wish to be thought of with longing… especially when relationships end abruptly or in an unexpected way. Maybe we even relish the idea of haunting someone. It’s a way of making peace with things when they don’t work out the way we’d hoped. We’re looking forward to Wild & Holy.

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A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Lauren Morrow – “Only Nice When I’m High”

So, full disclosure: Morrow isn’t queer. But cellist Larissa Maestro is gender-fluid, and Maestro (known by many for her work with Allison Russell) had a hand in creating some of the arrangements for Morrow’s forthcoming album, People Talk (March 31, Big Kitty Records), which this single is taken from. We feel confident saying that the whole project has some prominent queer ingredients. Plus, the video clip is amusing AF with the ‘personified blunt’ – it’s an Adult Swim version of The Muppet Show. Morrow, the former front woman of The Whiskey Gentry, says she’s not quite the big stoner that the lyric might lead us to believe. “I’m not a huge stoner or anything, but a little toke here and there helps me navigate my life and be the person I know I am inside when my anxiety isn’t trying to derail me,” she says. Fair enough. It’s a fun tune, and Morrow gives voice to things that a great many of us are thinking but choose not to say. It’s anthemic in an understated, baked-to-the-gills sorta way. Go on, have a puff… no judgies.


Kaleb Rudy – “Mess”

‘Thanks be’ to the universe for this steamy AF visualizer. Once you’re actually able to hear the song (it may take a few tries to get past the video clip), Rudy articulates that potentially messy intersection where infatuation is revving its engines to take you down an emotionally impulsive backroad… one that *could* turn out to be unpaved and poorly suited for repeated, ongoing travel. And so, “Mess” just sits there at that intersection and examines it, pulling it apart a little, imagining the different possibilities while the impulse continues tugging. Good sex is sometimes just good sex. Other times, it’s proof of enduring chemistry. Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to tell which it is in the early stages.


H.C. McEntire feat. S.G. Goodman – Shadows

Mount Moriah front woman H.C. McEntire’s third solo album, Every Acre, was a hotly anticipated Americana release and it yields this stunning duet with Kentucky native S.G. Goodman, whose Teeth Marks album made many a year-end list for 2022. McEntire has toured as a backup singer in Angel Olsen’s band, but she shines here at center stage, warbling along with Goodman in hair-raising harmony. “Is it fever or surrender?” the two ponder against a gentle-but-insistent beat. The track benefits from the production talents of Missy Thangs and Luke Norton who, along with McEntire, have shaped an album that allows the songs plenty of room to breathe. Despite a lingering, mournful heaviness, your ears and your heart will thank you.


Kara Jackson – “brain”

“If your fear is what comes first/You’ll run from love you deserve,” Jackson croons in this more contemplative tune, released simultaneously with “dickhead blues,” which we covered last week. Wisps of pedal steel waft by, creating a humid feel for this meditation on thoughts Jackson’s brain is serving while sitting up, awake… potentially next to the person she’s thinking of. Sweet dreams? Only ‘maybe.’ And that’s the problem.


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.