What else can I say, but where the hell have I been? Laura Stevenson is new to me even though she travels in the same circles that I have been digging through the past few years. She performed in Bomb the Music Industry! with the legendary Jeff Rosenstock, just to name one. I found out about her through her latest album, Laura Stevenson on Audiotree Live. Check it out below as you read through this!
Side Note: We all know part of her lineage. If not go listen to “Little Drummer Boy” or “Do You Hear what I hear”, yup–those Christmas classics, because they were written by her Grandfather, Harry Simeone. Laura’s grandmother sang in Benny Goodman’s Jazz band. She bleeds music.
This album is an audiophile’s dream. You need to listen to this with a pair of good headphones. It kicks off with the song “Value Inn.” The room is filled with the sobering tenor of Laura’s vocals as they float to you protecting the ring of a simple, crisp, and laid back guitar line. They lull you into a sense of somber security, which is only enhanced by her lyrical content: “the waves crash down in the water park…”. As the song fills out, it enters a crescendo as the low end lays out the rest of the atmosphere and the song’s hypnotic rhythm kicks in. The song crashes down on you mirroring those waves at the water park. “Value Inn” is example of songwriting at its peak. It is very rare to hear a room filled so perfectly with music–it hearkens back to The National’s “England” or Radiohead Live From the Basement. Not only for this song, but Laura Stevenson and her band manage to keep this perfect balance throughout the entire performance. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that they were playing over a backing track.
The album’s tempo increases with the second track, “Living Room NY.” Her vocals gain intensity in their tone and her voice easily slides up to key notes that keep the listener engaged and in wonder. The song is an example of Laura’s ability to paint images that are both identifiable and moving as they come to the listener through mingling strings and cymbals. Her songwriting is a rare type, the type that transcends performance and becomes experience.
I could spend all day writing about this album, but I won’t. You need to listen to it yourself. Go check it out! It is a 10 from me. This album is an experience of art that we all need. It is a semiotic escape to a world that we all know. It grounds us back to our own self. Our own senses. Our own loves. Our own desires. It reminds us that there is more to being human than the daily pressures of work, the news, and our current predicament.