2nd May 2017 – Self-released
01. Mama Don’t Make Me Put On The Dress Again
02. Make Up Your Mind
03. I Know You All Over Again
04. Seen My Man
05. I’ll Wear Your Ring
The Monolith is all about variation. We celebrate originality above everything else, so when RuPaul’s Drag Race star Trixie Mattel announced she was to release a country album, there was no question that I’d ultimately end up writing about it. Featuring some of the most inspired artwork in any genre in recent times there are many many questions raised by the mere existence of Two Birds.
Music released by drag queens as a whole fits an extremely formulaic pattern. Generally it’s crass lyrics put over rehashed dance beats, which is lapped up by the average fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Don’t get me wrong, it totally has its place – especially when paired with a live performance in a nightclub – but comedy queen Trixie Mattel has endeavoured to break the mould by spinning a yard through pure Americana whilst keeping it relevant to her fans and the mainstream alike. This album as a whole is a folk record that combines genuine human emotion with the recollections of a stressful touring schedule.
Opening track “Mama Don’t Make Me Put On The Dress Again” is the perfect introduction to someone who is unaware of the style of comedy with which Trixie has become synonymous. Its incredibly upbeat tempo, paired with road-worn lyrics of homesickness and longing should appeal to almost anyone. “Make Up Your Mind” continues that uptempo bluegrass approach, pairing pairing electric guitars with violins to build emotive soundscapes and infectious hooks that’ll drag you by the hand to middle America.
As with all country records, it’d be lost without its ballads; slow acoustic songs, carried by vocals and autoharp that cling to the conventions of a classic country lyrics. You’re missing your man, feeling both loss and heartbreak; it’s about as human as any emotion can get. With nods to the likes of Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, “I Know You All Over Again” and “I’ll Wear Your Ring” bookend the more uptempo “Seen My Man“, a homecoming song of highways and heartstrings that pull you back home after being gone for far too long.
Rounding out the record is hoedown anthem “Bluegrass“, packed with all the folk cliches possible. All that’s missing is a banjo, but the song’s unrelenting rhythms is an unstoppable train that even finds time for a jaw harp. Despite its all or nothing approach to instrumentation, the vocal performance is incredibly powerful, which is I have to admit is an unexpected surprise.
Two Birds manages to shed the conventions of the tired drag queen fare by diving straight into a pool of Americana. The vocal performance of Trixie Mattel is endearing, and over the six tracks that make up this EP you can be kindly reminded that drag queens have feelings too you know – and it’s all achieved without a single “YAS” or “Slay!”.