A mainstay of the NYC cabaret and nightclub scene for the past half-decade, Anne Steele’s music is infectious, liberated, and downright happy. But underneath its exuberant hand claps and soaring piano riffs, Steele preaches an important social message about gay rights. An advocate for the LBGT movement, she incorporates her strong perspective and platform into an album chock-full of fun, radio-ready dance tracks.

Album opener “What’s Mine” channels Sara Bareilles in its upbeat, piano-heavy melody and introspective theme. Meanwhile, the pairing of “Worst I Ever Had” and “Tough” reflect a universal message in relationships: sometimes you lose (big time) and sometimes you get lucky. “Worst I Ever Had” in particular is something of a expletive-laden catharsis with powerhouse vocals ala Kelly Clarkson that would serve anyone who’s emerging from a broken relationship well — particularly on an angry night-drive (we’ve all been there).

But the break-out track is closer “Don’t Tell Us How to Love,” where Steele “stands up for what’s right” in this slow-jam gay anthem that serves as the album’s appropriate culmination. “Even though things are changing, the fight cannot stop,” Steele told the Windy City Times in March. “I wanted to release this song in support of the movement and somehow hope to support [and] lift up all those kids still living in those small towns just hoping that it will get better.”

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(Photo by Christopher Boudewyns)