Chuck Westmoreland, "Denim Tears"
Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter Chuck Westmoreland makes an empathetic statement in "Denim Tears," imagining a young gay man who struggles to come out and take the risk of being cut off from his family. Westmoreland's conversational delivery describes the kind of violence and discrimination LGBTQ people face just by daring to exist, along with the heartbreak of frequently having nowhere to turn when faced with crisis. "Save your prayers, son. Hold it steady. Ain't nobody gonna miss you if you let them down," sings Westmoreland in the scruffy, guitar-driven chorus, channeling Tom Petty's streamlined version of rock & roll in this first offering from his forthcoming Long Winter Rodeo, out June 1st. It's a perfectly fine song to crank with the windows down, but as an exercise in attempting to understand someone else's pain a little better, it's absolutely vital. J.F.