Photo: Laura Partain / Courtesy of the artist

Brennen Leigh’s “Billy and Beau” Tells Midwestern Gay Love Story (premiere)

Americana artist Brennen Leigh's "Billy and Beau" offers a story of LGBTQ+ love and coming-of-age that remains universally relatable.

Brennen Leigh’s forthcoming album is full of songs that get down to the what’s-what of the heartland. Influenced by the state line between Minnesota and North Dakota, Prairie Love Letter is a collection of tunes that exemplify her thoughts on the area that she’d grown up in. It’s no-frills, narrative Americana that stretches the songwriter’s lyrical muscles. All the while, the album often settles on the beauty in the in-between; Leigh’s performance flows naturally, and allows for plenty of moments of clarity in the sparseness between notes left aside.

“Billy and Beau” tells the heartening story of gay youth in the Midwest. Leigh tells PopMatters, “I’d been wanting to write a song about Billy and Beau for a while. I knew I couldn’t write it without her, so I asked my friend Melissa Carper to help me. She’s got a one of a kind perspective, and a writing style I knew would be the perfect addition, plus she’s originally from Nebraska, so I knew she’d be familiar with the setting. I think we went back and forth on it for a number of weeks, but between the two of us, we got the story out. There’s a lot of truth in this song; we drew from both of our lives to write it. We hope it plays like a tiny movie. Billy and Beau are two young friends somewhere up on the American Great Plains. They’re both dealing with coming of age, gay kids in rural America. It’s a song about the fear that you’ll never feel fully free, and about the vulnerability of young love. I hope everyone can relate to this song.”

Prairie Love Letter releases on 18 September. It is now available to pre-order.