Renée Yoxon is a person, artist, and performer whose singular style is greater than the sum of their various identities.
Renée Yoxon is a performer in every sense of the word. As a musician and songwriter, Yoxon delivers a master class in emotive storytelling, infusing the smallest of phrases with the subtlest of emotions for maximum impact on the audience. The first time you hear Yoxon sing is to know their journey even though you know nothing of their backstory. It’s their backstory, as captured in the captivating documentary Beautiful Alchemy that truly reveals the inspiring, performative aspect of being Renée Yoxon: of being a young, gender-queer musician in the prime of their life debilitated by chronic pain.
“It’s a balancing act,” Yoxon explains in the short film directed by Teagan Lance, describing their experience as being “kind of invisibly trans and invisibly disabled …Especially in school this happened all the time where I would have to kind of decide, ‘Am I going to come out as disabled and get the accommodations I need or am I going to come out today as trans and get my pronouns met?’” They go on to add that “When you are these identities that are so nuanced and so hard for people to understand you kind of want to perform them in a way that [others will] understand so that they don’t harass you about it, and it happens in both my disabled life and my trans life.”
To coincide with the release of Beautiful Alchemy the documentary, Yoxon has released Beautiful Alchemy the original soundtrack, seven pieces from the film featuring Yoxon on vocals and piano, Matt Schultz on guitar, Alexandra LaPerrière on bass, and Thomas Sauvé-Lafrance on drums. Yoxon describes their work as “crossover jazz”, a breezy, fluid sound that never falls squarely on the side of jazz or contemporary pop. The country-and-folk-infused “Drinking Coffee” is the perfect distillation of a wistful Sunday morning alone with one’s thoughts while there’s someone else physically in the room with you: “’Cause even though you’re right across the table from me, darling / I could wail and I could shout / I could let myself cry out / You’d go on drinking coffee and never ask me to explain.” Similarly, “Meadowlark” showcases Yoxon’s ability to narrate a story in song without ever explicitly explaining a complicated relationship dynamic (“But I was wrong / I was wrong / I was wrong to hurt you and hold you in our lies / But the meadowlark needs to fly”).
You’d be forgiven for thinking that “Tender Hour of Twilight” and “Escape With Me” are both standards for how effortless and immediately familiar their melodies are. In essence, these songs alongside all the others on Beautiful Alchemy represent who Renée Yoxon is: a person, artist, and performer whose singular style is greater than the sum of their various identities. It may indeed be a balancing act, but Renée Yoxon manages it with grace, style, and poise.