Among the musicians who came out of the closet in 2010. Jennifer Knapp, a popular singer in the contemporary Christian music world, was preceded by both Ricky Martin and Chely Wright when she came out as a lesbian. She has gained a whole new fan-base in the LGBT community, despite the impact it may have on her core fans. On the album “Letting Go” (Graylin), which was released around the time Knapp made her public announcement, she proves herself to be a writer of catchy and moving songs, including “Dive In,” “Fallen” and the contemporary country of “Mr. Gray.”
Just when you thought the amazing modern folksinger/songwriter Ellis couldn’t possibly do anything else to thrill or delight listeners, she releases the album “Right On Time” (Rubberneck). The album’s title tune, a song written for her newborn daughter, contains the perfect message and sentiment for someone new to the world. Ellis turns out to be, not surprisingly, wise beyond her years and displays the most delightful (and caffeinated) sense of humor on “Coffee Song.” Love dominates this album, as is made clear on “Everybody Wants To Belong,” “Coming Home To You” and “You Are Royalty To Me,” a song for Ellis’ granny.
Can Anne McCue rock or what? On her new release “Broken Promise Land” (Flying Machine) McCue’s bluesy side unapologetically bares itself on “Ol’ Black Sky,” “Lonesome Child” and the title track, while “The Lonely One” is the most straightforward pop-rock number on the disc. “Motorcycle Dream” definitely has a wistful quality and “Rock ’n’ Roll Outlaw” rocks just the way you might expect a song with that title to do.
The always-fascinating Ripley Caine continues to broaden her horizons and ours on “Not Like Other Girls” (ripleycaine.com). “Would You” is Caine at her edgy/folky best. She turns an experimental corner on the eerie “Truly.” Andrea Bunch plays piano and Clémentine Malta-Bey lends spoken vocals on “The Moon Collides With The Ocean.” “Rare Find” verges on the psychedelic and “Bottle of Wine” is nearly intoxicating.
Jamie Anderson’s ear-to-ear grin on the cover of her “Better Than Chocolate” (Tsunami) EP is a pretty good indication of what you are going to find inside. “Public Radio” is a humorous endorsement of the subject of the song’s title and Anderson even injects a smirk into the break-up blues of “Her Problem Now.” It’s not all laughs, as you can hear on “January” and “Ghost Song.”
Madison resident Tret Fure, one of the grand dames of the women’s music circuit, returns with the luminous release “The Horizon” (Tomboy Girl). Love is at the heart of this disc, especially on songs such as “Nine” and “To Find Our Love.” Fure even reveals a wicked sense of humor on “Blackberry Blues” and “Dog Gone Blues” (to which most dog lovers can relate). She also makes great use of backing vocals on “Millie” and “Grace of God,” creating a gospel choir sound.
There’s much more to choose from when it comes to music by queer women, including “Junior” by guitar virtuoso Kaki King, “Closer to the Surface” (Stonecutter) by Jen Porter, “a ways away” (K)by Tara Jane O’Neil , Steff Mahan’s third album “Never A Long Way Home” (steffmahan.com), “Half Empty” by Amanda Lucas and “Finally Red” (Graciemae ) by Maren Christensen.