October 15th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Something Good is here. Veteran singer-songwriter Shannon Stephens has released a new EP, featuring four brand new recordings of classic material, re-built from scratch with the help of her band of five years. The disc pairs two covers, “World in My Eyes” by Depeche Mode and the title track, Rufus & Chaka Khan’s Stevie Wonder–penned hit “Tell Me Something Good,” with “So Gentle in My Arms” and “My Feeble Heart,” two songs from Stephens’ own back catalogue.
The bulk of the arranging duties on Something Good have fallen to Stephens’ band, with the Seattle vocalist asking her trusted collaborators to put their own stamp on the covers as well as the Shannon Stephens originals, both selected from her self-titled debut.
Stephens pressed pause on her singing career following that 2000 release, taking an eight-year hiatus to raise a family and escape the music industry. “It’s such a different reality, before and after” becoming a parent, she says, “like you go into a new realm and you never go back.” Having looked at life from both sides of that border, Stephens is now coming full circle, rediscovering her own repertoire through the soul and twang of her new sound.
Shannon Stephens and friends will celebrate the release of Something Good with an all-ages show at the Fremont Abbey Center in North Seattle this Friday night, Oct. 18 at 8pm.
July 24th, 2013 , by John Beeler
“I had to get creative.”
According to Shannon Stephens, her new single was born not out of artistic caprice, but of personal necessity. After upheavals in her personal life, she responded by immersing herself deeper in the stability and productivity of her musical work.
She started by recording “World in My Eyes,” a cover that remakes the icy Depeche Mode classic as a defiantly soulful and sultry rock number. The new single, now being released to Seattle-area press and radio, was recorded for what’s planned as a four-song EP, featuring one more cover and two new versions of songs from her 2000 debut.
“I didn’t feel ready to record an album” so soon after 2012’s Pull It Together, Stephens explains, but instead told herself, ”I’m going through some major life changes, and I need to keep busy—what’s something that we could do as a group that we could have fun with?”
She’s quick to credit her “dudes,” the five-piece band she’s toured with for the last half-decade, with many of the choices that are going into the creation of the EP. From the decision to cover Depeche Mode—although “World in My Eyes,” specifically, was Stephens’ pick—to the technical aspects of recording, Stephens and this small circle of collaborators were responsible for every ingredient of her new project, which is being recorded without any additional musicians and engineered by bassist Terry Mattson.
“I have the final say” in the recording process, “but we’re all kind of throwing our opinions in there,” says Stephens. “There were a lot of strong opinions,” she adds wryly, “when we were mixing ‘World in My Eyes.'”
Along with Dearborn and Daniel Blue of Motopony, Stephens and her band will be promoting the new single with a release show on August 2 at 7pm, at Seattle’s new Ballard Sanctuary.
June 4th, 2013 , by John Beeler
“It must have been spring fever,” says Shannon Stephens; a Facebook announcement from the Seattle-based singer-songwriter says she’s hitting the road in the month of June on a “crazy regional tour.”
On Thursday, May 30, Stephens kicked the tour off with a concert at Olympia’s Spar Cafe, featuring Graydon Holden of lower lights burning, to be followed by seven more dates around the Northwest. Filling out the bill at most shows will be Stephens’ fellow Seattleites, singer-songwriter j. wong and three-piece Pablo Trucker.
Upcoming dates include June 6—j. wong’s birthday—at Seattle’s Sunset Tavern; June 7 at Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre; Boon’s Treasury in Salem, OR on June 8; and a June 15 show at Everett, WA’s Anchor Pub featuring Tomo Nakayama and Cami Lundeen. Finally, wong and Pablo Trucker return to the tour for three more dates: June 21 at Mikey’s Gyros in Moscow, ID; June 22 at Sandpoint, ID’s Downtown Crossing; and June 23 at Caffè Mela in Wenatchee, WA.
The Seattle Weekly called Shannon Stephens the “Best Female Vocalist of 2012,” and those clear, warm vocals come with a wry and often dark songwriting sensibility. She led the band Marzuki along with Sufjan Stevens, and her music has been covered by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, who also sings on her latest album. Pull It Together, her third LP, came out last year on Asthmatic Kitty, and Stephens has begun writing songs for a fourth.
[youtube width=”542″ height=”305″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyUySbnhMVY[/youtube]
November 5th, 2012 , by John Beeler
[vimeo width=”542″ height=”305″]http://vimeo.com/47125330[/vimeo]
Welcome to November. In Seattle, home of Shannon Stephens, this is a tough month; the vestiges of summer are gone entirely, the sun has disappeared behind clouds, and the rain falls sharp and cold. Shannon’s “Cold November” is a perfect respite. Video producer Fish & Crown captured it on film. DM Stith is on piano and Andrew Rudd on extra piano and bells.
You can download a similar version over on Noisetrade below.
August 14th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Seattle’s Best Female Vocalist has a free EP on Noisetrade and is touring.Read the Rest...
May 25th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Pull It Together, the new album from Shannon Stephens, is out and about. And so is Shannon herself! Tonight she is playing in Grand Rapids at Schuler Books and Music – tomorrow she’s playing in Indianapolis at Radio Radio opening for Ben Sollee.
A little before that, Shannon will be doing a free in-store show at LUNA Music at 2pm.
Then on Sunday, catch her in Dayton. For more details click here.
May 22nd, 2012 , by John Beeler
Seattle-based singer-songwriter Shannon Stephens’ third full-length Pull It Together releases today. Throughout the album’s 11 bluesy racks, Stephens sings about the weighty world, joy, and rest. A shortlist of fine musicians make appearances, including DM Stith and Jeff Fielder. Stephens also teams up with Bonnie Prince Billy (Will Oldham) on the track “Faces Like Ours.”
Seattle Weekly sings the album’s praises, saying, “From Stephens’ band mates to her personal, well-spun compositions, great instincts and well-adapted acoustic flourishes define Pull It Together and make it a deeply satisfying spin.” Read the whole review over on the Weekly’s site.
May 9th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Shannon Stephens’ strong-hearted songwriting distinguishes her infectious third release, Pull It Together. The album’s blues-meets-indie folk melodies hover underneath challenging lyrics born out of the Great Recession. And she's taking it on tour.
Stephens begins her Pull It Together Tour on May 16 in Allentown, PA, winding her way through New York, Ontario, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, and Ohio before playing a final show in her hometown of Seattle June 8. For a complete list of tour dates, click here.
We're also releasing her brand new single today, entitled “Care of You.” The song captures the essence of the new record: a bluesy ragged jam, as if pulled together on a bar stage with close friends. Watch the video, directed by Christian Sorensen Hansen, above, or download it off of Soundcloud right here.
We're lucky to be releasing Pull It Together May 22nd. To preorder a copy of the album, click here – $10 for CD, $15 for LP.
You can also get her new t-shirt, pressed to order and designed by cover artist Tae Won Yu, here.
February 14th, 2012 , by John Beeler
You know Shannon Stephens. Or maybe you think you did. This album, this third one, is a little different.
Say hello to Pull It Together.
This record represents a real leap in confidence and songcraft for Shannon. Greater maturity has brought a both a looser, louder style and a more sharply focused worldview. Call this new sound pragmatic pop: optimism balanced with the sharp-edged reality of life in 2012, as much butter as it is knife. Cold Seattle winds and recessionary times have tempered and transformed the soft singer-songwriter folk of her previous two albums. With Pull It Together, Shannon pulls more the lexicon of blues rock than anything else. Think Neil Young, born a woman in 1975.
The first single from Pull It Together is "What Love Looks Like."
Sings Shannon, "I'd like to take you home and turn off the telephone, 'cause that's what love looks like, love looks like / I'd like to pay the bills and set out your vitamin pills— this is what love looks like, love looks like.” Oh wow, it’s Valentine’s Day. How appropriate.
Thanks to PopMatters for hosting the track today! Have a listen/download the track on their site here or listen below:
August 11th, 2011 , by John Beeler
Starting tonight, not far from her hometown of the coffee-replete but sadly tomato-less Seattle, Shannon Stephens will begin a rather significant event: a tour. "Bands tour all the time," you say. To which we say, "But you have not seen Shannon Stephens on tour."
Sure; you may have caught one of her shows, here and there and however occasional. But this, friends, is a tour. A moving object. Something unstationary. You could even call a tour a narrative, a story; with a start (Seattle) and a finish (The Rehberg's home in Bellingham WA). Something dynamic. A rising action in the West Coastal Region. Resolution, perhaps in Laguna Beach.