I am always one for music artists — any artists really — who bear their souls for the sake of their art. This, of course, is why I harbor a great affinity for the singer/songwriter and even more so the openly gay singer/songwriter.
There are those who came out (willingly or not-so willingly) at some pointed spot in their career but even more interesting is the cadre of singers emerging who proclaim their gayness from the onset. True, the climate is different today than say even ten years ago and what could only be described then as a burgeoning or, more like, largely unrecognized gay market is now one ripe and now saturated with ploys to market to them. Still these renegade musicians have the chutzpah to forfeit the opportunity for even more mass appeal, that America’s heartthrob status, to be true to themselves. That’s admirable at the least.
With that written, I have two recommendations. Most of my gays for sure know Rufus Wainwright. Wainwright’s moody voice serves his equally moody, sometimes funny, sometimes sarcastic or sardonic, sometimes teetering on the ridiculous lyrics very well. His first two albums, one self-titled and the other Poses have both helped de-cloud many a friend’s (myself included) mood. Honestly, I think he really set the stage for many other artists in his generation and beyond to put their art/craft before anything else. Wainwright has admitted that he had no other choice but to be out and proud from the beginning alluding to the fact that he wouldn’t have been able to hide it anyway, yet still, I have to give him credit where credit is due.
Following in his footsteps, not only in his frankness about his sexuality but in lyrical content and sound, songster Matt Alber is creating some buzz himself. A Grammy Award-winning artist (when he was a part of an acapella group), Alber takes Wainwright’s moodiness and infuses it with something a bit more mellow in his first solo album Hide Nothing. And the title says it all! The album is an unabashed look at love and all of its inherent complexities.
Check out Alber’s ballad “End of the World.” It truly captures what it means to love and love hard. Even if we have yet to experience that, we can lavish in his articulation of this anomaly. Fittingly, the song’s video is conceptually stunning and marks Alber as the gay artist — no, the artist, rather — to watch!