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I’m Shannon Stephens, and I’d like to tell you the story of the “Something Good” EP.
I’ve never had a committed and seasoned band like I do now. I have the privilege of playing with true professionals, and they’ve been great collaborators and friends. When the band first came together, I had them mimicking the studio recordings I’d done with other people. They dutifully learned them. But in between songs at rehearsal, they would launch into instrumental detours that were ridiculous and amazing. I’d stand there and crack up while they riffed and laughed at each other. I began to realize that those were my favorite moments of rehearsal. And I started to wonder: What if I let the band handle their own arrangements on a recording?
So I let them reinterpret two songs from my first album, “So Gentle Your Arms” and “My Feeble Heart”. We then chose two songs to cover: “World in my Eyes” by Depeche Mode and “Tell me Something Good” by Stevie Wonder (performed by Rufus and Chaka Khan).
Together with my band, comprised of Terry Mattson, Andrew Rudd, BC Campbell and Julian Martlew, we achieved a lush and carefree sound that is unlike any of my studio recordings. The band’s collective influences intersect in a place that is part soul, blues, funk, country, perhaps a touch of New Orleans street music. We started the recordings live to tape in a converted barn, with the expert engineering hand of Terry Mattson (he even tried to play bass and press “record” at the same time… it didn’t work out). There was much coffee, and homemade soup, and sleep deprivation, and a little bit of grumbling associated with this project.
“World in My Eyes”, the Depeche Mode cover, is… well, it’s sex. I’ll say no more. “My Feeble Heart” sounds like a broken and throbbing heart, with drumsticks flying, bass pounding, dobro wailing and piano thrumming. “So Gentle Your Arms” is as serene and delicious as a night sky full of stars. You won’t even notice it’s in 5/4 time. “Tell Me Something Good” holds on to the funk of its predecessor, but has a country flavor too, and has a good laugh at itself.
The Seattle Weekly grumbled that there aren’t any new songs on here—which I’ll take as a compliment. New songs are in the works, but in the meantime I needed to have a little fun. Please enjoy!