Nathan Marion Roy documents his coming out and transitioning story in his debut album Flowers for Every Occasion, a true win for raw authenticity. This folk record is refreshingly unique with Nathan’s masterful lyrics and storytelling.

After being introduced to Nathan Marion Roy’s debut album Flowers for Every Occasion, it made sense to exclusively play the album in a car, the windows rolled down. The gentle acoustic guitar rose and fell alongside the gusts of wind. Flowers for Every Occasion follows Roy’s journey of transitioning, and each song is authentic and raw, leaving nothing off limits.

The first song, “Deadname,” foreshadows a later song, “Easier,” and introduces listeners to Roy’s complex headspace and life. In “Easier”, Roy admits to not wanting “to bring shame on my family / But it’s hard to be a man / When you work so hard to be your mother’s baby,” suggesting that his process of coming out was not necessarily welcomed. Earlier in the song, he brings listeners into his hospital room, but it turns out the listeners are the only ones: “No one came to sit beside my bed / They left me here in my head.”

“The writing happened very naturally over the course of my transition. I didn’t sit down and say, ‘I want to write a transition record,'” explains Roy. “Over the course of a few years I wrote a ton of songs as I was figuring myself out, and once I was fairly settled in the transition process, I picked out the ones that I felt represented this particular story the best.”

 

Each song exists in its own universe, with unfolding layers and captivating lyrics. In “Sublimate (I Want So Bad),” Roy focuses on his mental health during his transition. The song’s refrain is “I want so bad to feel like I’m not crazy / I want so bad to feel like I’m worth saving,” and feels as if Roy is letting go of something, some sentiment, that has been held too long. In the song he seems to be talking to a friend about this, who tells him, “It’s always going to be about the things I’m not changing.” This line, compared to the previous one, reveals that despite negative thoughts creeping in, Roy’s authentic self is steadfast in its decision.

Change plays a huge role in this album. Roy began his medical transition in August of 2017, recording the first half of the album that October. The other half was recorded in March of 2018.

“If you listen carefully enough, I think the most obvious change is the timbre of my voice. It’s still distinctively me, but I’m fairly certain you can hear the thickening of my vocal chords happening the longer I was on testosterone,” says Roy.

While the album is inescapably sad, it is at the same time powerful and celebratory. Especially in the song “Easier,” Roy characterizes himself as having to diminish himself and his journey, but through writing these songs and turning his life into a form of art that is publicly shared, Roy is actually refusing to shy away. Roy’s sense of agency is clear in the line “Please don’t call me that name / It’s Nathan now,” from the song “Easier.” 

The sixth song on the album really capitalizes on Roy’s learned wisdom. The entire song is built by Roy recounting things he has heard, felt, or fought against as he came out and started his transition. The beginning lines of the song are as follows: “It’s written in the stars / Carved into my stone / Hidden in my heart / Before I was born / You think you really know yourself, / But you’re skipping all the pages / That hurt the most.”

Flowers for Every Occasion ends with this outlook. Roy has a newfound confidence achieved from pushing against everything that did not come from his own truth, his own needs. There is an understanding that while mistakes were made, arguments fought, and ties severed, everything still fell into place.

“Flowers can be symbolic under a variety of circumstances – we use them at every wedding, every funeral, Mother’s Day, even birthdays or first dates. It’s an enduring representation of beauty regardless of, and sometimes in spite of, the situation,” explains Roy.

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