Chicago singer/songwriter Steve Grand has been touted as one of America’s “first openly gay country stars” … but I take issue with that on a couple of fronts.
First off, despite a rock-solid debut album in “All American Boy” (and kudos for spending his own money to produce a video for the title track), I think referring to Grand as a “star” is a stretch. A promising newcomer? Sure, but not a star. At least not yet. Second, other than the aforementioned title track, I think you’d be hard-pressed to classify Grand’s music as country. He’s squarely in the pop/rock genre, in my opinion. And to be fair, Grand isn’t the one making the “country star” proclamations.
“I never embraced that label, but if my fans heard ‘All American Boy’ as country, who am I to tell them no?” Grand says. “Music is subjective. The lines of life are blurring … we are seeing that in music as well as in sexuality and gender identity. For me, it’s all about the song, and a good song can take the shape of many different genres depending on who is singing it or how it is produced.”
The album makes for an enjoyable listen though it falls short of essential. There are flashes of brilliance — the title track, “Say You Love Me,” “Stay,” “Back to California” — and Grand builds on that foundation I have little doubt he could become a star …. regardless of genre. (Jeffrey Sisk)