Brandon Stansell Airs Reality Of Returning Home With New Song, “Like Us”

Time seems to stand still in small towns. If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, or a person of color, the pressure to conform to particular standards triggers a sense of isolation. Many leave the constraints of rural life for bigger cities and greater possibility of acceptance. In listening to Sam Hunt’s hit single “Kinfolks,” queer singer-songwriter Brandon Stansell was struck by the song’s celebratory tone, and he realized he would never be able to experience such joy in bringing a boyfriend back home.

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“I was listening to [that song], thinking how I couldn’t sing a song like that ─ a song about how exciting it is to bring someone home for the first time,” Stansell remarks to American Songwriter.

“I know that’s not true for all queer people, which is a great thing, but I think for a lot of us, going home can be tough and taking someone with you usually makes it even more complicated if not impossible,” he continues.

Stansell decided to write a song about it. His new song “Like Us,” premiering today, was co-written with Will Jay and Sam Creighton. “We wrote this song with a story that’s hard to listen to but important to tell,” notes Stansell, whose sweet vocal is laced with a tinge of melancholy, even frustration.

“You understand, we can’t hold hands / Unless we like getting dirty looks / As we walk down memory lane,” he observes. “You’d see that most of them ain’t good / That’s the church where I first learned / That I wasn’t the good kind of different / People age but never change / They just hide behind white fences.”

Originally from Georgetown, Tennessee, almost three hours south-east of Nashville, Stansell has always been honest and vulnerable in his music. His 2018 song “Hometown” depicts getting kicked out of his family’s home after coming out, and this year’s “Hurt People,” a collaboration with Cam, emerged as another evocative stunner around vicious cycles of pain.

“Like Us” continues to underscore Stansell’s powerful, sharp voice, a necessary addition to today’s expanding country music landscape. “My mom would bake you something sweet… that good southern hospitality / You’d look around and wonder why I ever even left,” he laments on the chorus. “And wouldn’t that be nice / but we’d never get inside / As if I had a choice to fall in love / But home isn’t home for people like us.”

“It’s exciting to see a wave of new voices in Country Music. I think with recent #1s from Ingrid Andress and Gabby Barrett, and songs about gender and racial inequity from Mickey Guyton, we are seeing a want from country fans for different stories and different perspectives,” he says. “And I am excited to be a part of it all. I think ‘Like Us’ is one of those stories.”

Coinciding with the single release, the rising country star’s emotional and vital documentary “Three Chords and a Lie” drops this week on OUTtv.

Listen to “Like Us” below.

Photo courtesy of Spencer & Lloyd Harvey

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