Queer Songbook Orchestra is a celebrity-studded collective that uses accessible chamber pop to suss out the subtler threads of queer cultural history in Canada and elsewhere. Bonjay is a minimal soul duo with a bass-heavy sound rooted in dancehall. The common factor between the two is singer Alanna Stuart, one of Canada’s finest. Reconciliation of queer and Caribbean identity is a preoccupation for Stuart, as a Jamaican-Canadian, a scholar, and here on this amazing collaborative track, as an artist. “Medicine for Melancholy”, its title taken from the 2016 film Moonlight, appeared in its original, club-oriented version on Lush Life, the 2018 album from Stuart’s duo with producer Ian “Pho” Swain. Lyrically, it’s a deft and poignant expression of a divided sense of self. Reconsidered for an acoustic chamber ensemble – violin, piano, and a heap of horns, with assured arrangements by La-Nai Gabriel – the song reveals a new richness. It’s an uplifting listen, and a beautiful bit of bridge-building. In fact, it’s something this musical alliance might want to build on further. Watch the video here.
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