Rachel Garlin's The Ballad of Madelyne & Therese Out July 21st

Article Contributed by Mixtape Media | Published on Sunday, June 11, 2023

Rachel Garlin will release The Ballad of Madelyne & Therese, a song cycle built around two women having a love affair in 1940s New York City, on July 21, 2023.

An out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Garlin has crafted a sonic work of historical fiction about forbidden love set against war-torn, socially-staid 1940’s America.  For the album The Ballad of Madelyne & Therese, vocalist, guitarist, and frontwoman Garlin is backed by a full band that features bassist/co-producer Jonny Flaugher (Lady Blackbird), organist Kenneth Crouch (Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey), guitarist David Levita (Tim McGraw), drummer Michael Jerome (Better Than Ezra), along with special guests on horns and flutes. The music is, by turns, rousing, dark, haunting, and introspective, weaving around and through Garlin’s poetic lyrics that explore female desire in ways both subtly coded and boldly forceful.

The 13-song album kicks off with “Having Slept on It,” a driving anthem that celebrates the soul-stirring power of insomnia and the evocative joys of the night sky, especially when they are “charming, disarming and alarming” as Garlin writes. “Please Therese” is a coded telegram between lesbian lovers who use 1940s euphemisms to disguise their solicitations “I believe that we could be ‘peculiar and at ease’ / Because we’re well beyond a cure but we’re alive” sings Garlin on the rollicking track. Stand-out song “Yellow” weaves poetry and introspection from the dark mind of a closeted 1940s housewife who longs to explore female desire but who “cannot upset the way of things like napkin rings that rattle through a meal.” Garlin wrote the song “Shame on Me” with Steve Seskin (known for his #1 Tim McGraw hit “Grown Men Don’t Cry.”) The Garlin/Seskin collaboration brings into full relief the raw feelings of a scorned lover who turns on herself with the hooky line “Shame on me for trying to get you to do what you said you couldn’t do / Shame on me, shame on me for loving you.”

The album The Ballad of Madelyne & Therese has recently been adapted for the stage as a one-woman show with public workshop performances at the Hotel Cafe in LA and The Lost Church in San Francisco, with more to come.

“I’ve always been fascinated by stories of non-straight girls and women from eras long ago,” says Garlin. “As a kid I scanned the cultural scene for someone, anyone, who was like me — Pippi Longstocking? Punky Brewster? Jo from Facts of Life? But there was rarely confirmation that the characters I admired were living outside of hetero-normativitiy. On a visceral level, I knew that many girls and women who came before me had identities that were outside the norm. That curiosity grew into an interest and study of the subcultures from 1940s that gave rise to LGBTQ+ living long before it had an acronym.”

As a socially engaged and outspoken member of the community, Garlin has been part of the recent conversation about the inconsistency in the policies and marketing of big-box stores like Target. In 2020, she released a song and video called "TarGay" that went viral on social media, and she continues to be visible and vocal about the issue.  "Targay" has received laurels from festivals including New York City Short Comedy Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and New York Flash Film Festival amongst others.

The Ballad of Madelyne & Therese is an expansive work where each song can stand alone. As a suite, these songs have an overarching theme and a historical context, adding depth and sophistication to the project. The new album follows 2021’s The State That We Are In and 2020’s Mondegreens, dubbed by Glide Magazine as, “infectiously poignant music that resonates in a timeless way.”

Rachel Garlin will be playing select dates in support of The Ballad of Madelyne & Therese.

Don’t Miss Rachel Garlin Live

July 13               The Lost Church         Santa Rosa, CA

November 22     Freight and Salvage          Berkeley, CA