The title of Atlanta-based out singer/songwriter Michelle Malone’s new album, 1977 (SBS), is a reference to the year she first began to play guitar. It’s fitting then, that album opener “Not Who I Used To Be” opens with the bold sound of an electric guitar. A self-described “big fan of 1970s music, especially singer/songwriters from the Laurel Canyon scene,” Malone succeeds in capturing the spirit and energy of the period on standout tracks “Even The Queen,” “Georgia Made,” “Know My Name,” and “River Song” (featuring Amy Ray on backing vocals).
Ramesh (Srivastava), the queer, former lead singer of Austin band Voxtrot, returns with Eternal Spring (Cult Hero), his first solo album since 2014’s The King. “Redemption” kicks things off to a rocking start. However, the songs that follow reveal Ramesh’s mellower (although no less energetic) side via queer power-pop tunes including the exhilarating title cut, “Wilderness of the Heart,” the synth-driven experimentation of “New Style” and “Valentino,” and the dance-beats of “Acid & Tender.”
Berlin-based, Ireland-bred Wallis Bird releases her “summer album” Hands (wallisbird.com) in May 2022, between the milestone seventh anniversary of marriage equality in Ireland and Dublin’s Pride Festival. Warm as sunshine, this soundtrack for the season is meant to be listened to with all the windows rolled down on the car while zooming through traffic. Most of the 10-songs, beginning with the political statement of “What’s Wrong with Changing,” as well as “No Pants Dance,” “I Lose Myself Completely,” and “Aquarius,” are driven by synth-beats aimed at your feet. Bird also spreads her folky wings on “I’ll Never Hide My Love Away.”
Landing four years after her debut album, The Fire I Saw (jennyparrott.com) LP by queer singer/songwriter Jenny Parrott is a scorching effort. Thirst-quenching opener “Knocking Back Some Cokes,” while “My Hero” gives her a chance to demonstrate her vocal variations. The strings on “Georgia” are a nice touch, as are the a cappella vocals on “July.” If there’s one complaint, it’s that at eight songs, Parrott leaves listeners hungry for more.
Now married to a man (!) and a “new mom,” Edie Carey never sounded more like Ani DiFranco than she did on her bisexuality anthem “The Middle” from her 2000 album “The Falling Places.” That was then, this is now, as you can hear on her new record The Veil (ediecarey.com). The twelve originals (including one collaboration with Megan Burtt) find the Colorado-based singer/songwriter settling into domesticity and an Americana style, hoping her songs “bring a measure of healing and reconnection” during these “deeply divided” times.
Gay singer/songwriter Jon Fuller makes a lasting impression with “Stepping Stone,” from his third album When Did You Get So Damned Scared (jonfullermusic.com). A touching, alternately humorous and dramatic, number about first gay love, Fuller fills the listener’s ears with all the feels. It’s one of the best songs you’ll hear on the subject. Fuller also doesn’t shy away from getting political on the songs “Not In My Name,” “Burn It Down,” and “Gonna Have Fun Today.” Fuller is a welcome voice in the LGBTQ+ music scene.
Genderqueer artist Diane Coffee (aka Shaun Fleming) serves up their fourth full-length album With People (Polyvinyl). If you didn’t know any better, you might think album opener “Corrina from Colina,” had been discovered in a fault that had been locked since the early 1980s. The song effortlessly conjures the pop mindset of the period. But by “Bullied,” the second song, containing the lyrics “I was attractive, I was kind of queer/Who better to tempt my schoolyard domineer?”, we know we’re listening at a time when such subject matter is addressed. Also of note are the shape-shifting “Our Love/The Run,” the deceptively dark “Shark” (which returns to the schoolyard), the queer “politics” of “Forever You and I,” and the unexpected folk of “What Good Is It Now.”
The 12 selections on lesbian singer/songwriterSean Della Croce’s subtly radiant debut album Illuminations (Pasadena), shine a generous light on her artistry. The Nashville native proudly represents contemporary Americana with a touch of folk on the songs “Rebecca Henry,” “Catharine Street,” “Lille,” and “End All Be All.” Della Croce is also at home turning up the twang as does on “Then, Now,” “Break In the Rain,” and “Weak Days.”
Drawing on influences ranging from Tegan and Sara to Billie Eilish and Avril Lavigne, queer singer/songwriter Carlie Hanson grabs us by the collar and doesn’t let go with her debut full-length album Tough Boy (Warner Records). Easily the most commercially-produced-sounding album in this column, Hanson has a knack for co-writing catchy numbers made all the more enticing because of the lyrical content of songs such as “Nice To Know Ya,” “Fuck Your Labels,” “Girls In Line For the Bathroom,” and “Gucci Knife.”
Better Than Electric (Pasadena) is the fifth full-length studio album by queer musician Kid Moxie (aka Elena Charbila). Created while in lockdown in L.A. during the pandemic, the songs sound like a dream of nostalgia and longing for community. “At The End of the Night” is pure ‘80s adrenaline,” while “Unbroken” has a NIN vibe. The dance tracks, including “Miss Robot,” “Black Flower,” and “Lost In Time,” are Kid Moxie’s strong suit.