Sound Check: August 2008

 
 

News and reviews of queer women in music.

August is all about Jennifer O’Connor. As a hard-working woman who seems to
be constantly on the road, her current summer tour has her playing several new
songs from her latest album, Here With Me,
which will be released Aug. 19 on Matador Records. (Her label mates include Cat
Power, the New Pornographers, and queer couple Matmos, so you know she’s in
good company.) After sleeping for 11 hours after her Chicago tour stop, the out singer-songwriter
obliged me with a phone interview.

"I kind of like it — it gives people an unbiased
reflection of the songs," O’Connor said of playing the new tunes on the
road. The unbiased opinion has to be positive: The title track is an optimistic
one that really sets the tone for the rest of the album. "We’ve got a lot
of time to get this right," she sings lightly. It’s just one of the songs
about her current happiness, part of which has to do with her being in love.

An artist who has been relatively under the radar, O’Connor
has always been out, but her sexuality is a little more visible with this album
— literally. The cover of Here With
Me
is a photograph of O’Connor nuzzling her girlfriend (who sings and plays
harmonica on the album as well).

"That actually happened really kind of naturally,"
she said of the album cover. "I’ve always been very open, and for some
reason it just happened [that] a friend took a picture of us and she said,
‘This is so great. People love it!’ And I loved it, and I think it was
appropriate for this record. I guess I put a little more focus on that, and it
seemed like a good, natural thing that happened."

Jennifer O’Connor

In between her tours, O’Connor will be shooting her first
ever music video, and she hopes that she’ll be reaching more of the queer
crowd, as she has yet to be recognized as a peer to other "lesbian
singer-songwriters."

"I think I have avoided it in some ways,
literally," she said, "but, I mean, I’m gay and I’m completely
comfortable with that, but it’s never been a thing that’s been related to what
I do musically. It didn’t seem relevant. With this record, it just kind of
happened."

Until she’s discovered by a queer fan base, she’ll stay on
the road. Her hopes for the new album are simply for people to "hear some
joy in it."

"It’s about falling in love, and I’m very happy,"
O’Connor said. As if we couldn’t tell from the album cover.

Releases Reviewed

Besides O’Connor’s album of lesbian love, August boasts a
lot of other Sapphic songs — and they are pretty diverse musically.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been into the softer side of things
this summer, but it’s really hard for me to take Team Gina seriously. I just
can’t get into their shtick. The duo’s tongue-in-cheek album, Products of the ’80s, is funny enough for
a one-time listen, but after that, it’s completely forgettable.

 

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