Your Choice Way

Lavender Country - Blackberry Rose Music Album Reviews

Lavender Country - Blackberry Rose Music Album Reviews
Nearly 50 years after he recorded perhaps the first country album by an openly gay person, Seattle folk singer Patrick Haggerty returns with a follow-up. In all of his songs, he’s equal parts empath and scold, a soft touch with a sharp tongue.

When the North Carolina label Paradise of Bachelors first contacted Patrick Haggerty about reissuing his 1973 album of openly gay country songs, he was 70 years old. Lavender Country, as he’d called the project, was ancient history to him—after recording it with friends, he’d pressed about 1000 copies, sold them in the back pages of gay newspapers, and then, when they were gone, went about his life. He had two children, got married, and ran for Washington State Senate on the Socialist ticket. His musical career was mostly confined to performing at old folks’ homes, where “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” presumably didn’t make the setlist.

When Lavender Country was reissued in 2014, the same 10 songs he’d recorded and released to resounding silence in his late twenties suddenly sent him on his first national tour, often supporting punk bands one-third his age. He became the subject of an award-winning documentary. In 2020, RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Trixie Mattel covered his tender cruising ballad “I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You.” Hollywood came calling, interested in a biopic. Four decades later, Haggerty’s plaintive, defiant statement on gay American life had finally entered the national conversation. Haggerty, once a footnote, was now a pioneer.

Now, Patrick Haggerty is 78 years old, and for the second time in his life, he’s in a recording studio. The songs on Blackberry Rose, the second-ever Lavender Country album, were written at all points in his life. The oldest (“Red Dress”) predates the first record by four years, while Haggerty came up with “Sweet Shadow Man” and “Don’t Buy Her No More Roses” in 2019. As the follow-up to a nearly 50-year-old album, Blackberry Rose has few precedents: The psychedelic folk artist Linda Perhacs, who returned to recording after a 44-year absence, comes to mind. But unlike Perhacs, who shifted more definitively into new age with her comeback The Soul of All Natural Things, Haggerty returns to recording virtually unchanged: His voice, which was unaffected and childlike in its simplicity in 1973, is unaffected and childlike in 2022. His band is a touching assortment of regulars, people who have been playing with him for decades, and his perspective remains consistent. In all of his songs, he’s equal parts empath and scold, a soft touch with a sharp tongue. His vision is clear enough to see the good, or at least the pain, in everyone.

Like the radical feminist Clara Fraser, to whom Blackberry Rose pays tribute, Haggerty is a true-blue Marxist, one who views the world as a series of oppressed underclasses, united by more than what divides them. The 10 songs on the original Lavender Country, written and recorded shortly after the Stonewall riots, focused on the injustice and pain of gay American life in the 1960s and ’70s. The material on Blackberry Rose ranges far wider: On these songs, Haggerty is an overworked Wyoming housewife one minute, a white Baptist boy sneaking off for dalliances with a young Black man in 1962 Louisiana the next. But even when he’s playing the role of the conniving strikebreaker on “Clara Frazer, Clara Frazer,” there’s a playfulness to the portrait that suggests, if not redemption, than a certain sardonic understanding. Haggerty’s songs contain villains, but no monsters.

Haggerty often plays a soother, a lover, one whose playful tenderness is a balm. “Lay all of your yearnings and all your concerns/In that pretty head down on my pillow,” he sings on “All Disillusions Behind.” “Let me blow them away with the dust of the day/They are dandelion fluff on the billow”—and it’s that last clause, “dandelion fluff on the billow”—that tells you everything you need to know about the mind at work. Language is a site of play for Haggerty, and he writes like he’s trying to outdo himself. On “Red Dress,” a wronged-woman lament written for his divorced sister and sung by Kassi Valazza, he offers up a doozy: “Lately when you look at me, you been seeing a trinity/Your mama, the Irish washerwoman, and a whore from gay Paree/But I’m from Enid, Oklahoma and my name is not Marie/And I don’t like the aroma of your third-hand ecstasy.” Like he did with “Back in the Closet,” a rewrite of “Back in the Saddle,” Haggerty revises a country standard with winking new lyrics: This time it’s “Stand on Your Man” (“Give him your boot heel to lick on”).

The only place his pen gets slightly away from him is on the story-song “Blackberry Rose.” Haggerty has said it took 30 years to write, and it’s consequently the album’s most labored-over song. A vivid and disturbing account of an interracial love that ends with terrible consequences—a lynching, a miscarriage, a beating—it veers closer to pulp than anything else here. Even this, though, is a testament to Haggerty’s intentions: He’s an antenna for human suffering, able to probe his way into the particulars of just about any life. He may have risen to his late-breaking renown as a “gay country singer,” but Haggerty has his sights set on something deeper: He’s a folk artist, a singer for everyone.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Lavender Country - Blackberry Rose Music Album Reviews Lavender Country - Blackberry Rose Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, February 26, 2022 Rating: 5

0 comments:

Post a Comment