Alley Stoetzel
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Alley Stoetzel

Hyannis, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Hyannis, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Country

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"Album Review: "What We've Been Up To", Alley Stoetzel"

I had the great fortune of receiving this wonderful little EP from Boston-based singer-songwriter, Alley Stoetzel. Alley released her debut EP back in September 2012 with help from some of the best bluegrass musicians in the Northeast. If you're looking for some great music from an up-and-coming artist, this album will satisfy that need and then some.

The six-track EP consists of four cover tunes and two originals, and they blend together perfectly. The song selection for those covers is square in Alley's wheelhouse. Opening up with a mandolin-heavy version of "Cocaine Blues", a tune made famous by Johnny Cash on his historic "Johnny Cash at San Quentin" album. It's a ballsy selection to kick off the album, and Alley and her crew rise to the occasion with a raucous version of this classic.

The next track is the beautiful "How Much I Need You", an original song that explores the uncertainty that can exist when starting a new relationship. Alley's soulful vocal really shines through on this selection, really highlighting the vulnerability of the lead character. A song such as this comes from someone who has lived through it, which allows for the listener to relate to the story.

The third track is another original, "It's Always You", which in some ways could be the sequel to its predecessory, "How Much I Need You." The song is the perfect complement as it seemingly continues the story as the two characters have progressed in their relationship, verging on falling in love. Given the quality of the songwriting from Ms. Stoetzel on these two tracks, it is to be hoped that she includes more originals on her next release, whether that's a full length album or another EP.

The album then ventures back in to cover-territory, and the selection here is brilliant with its variance. For a young lady who is only 27 to tackle two icons in the history of music with Hank Williams, Sr. and Lefty Frizzell, to then close off with Rhianna takes some serious guts and confidence. Ms. Stoetzel pulls these off in spades.

While not much more can be said of the lyrics of the Hank Sr. classic "Lovesick Blues," the rockabilly treatment of this song that Ms. Stoetzel and her companions gives it a fresh outlook that I've not heard before. It's a great little cover they should be proud of.

Next up is a cover of one of my favourite old songs, "Long Black Veil." Written by the legendary Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dill, this song has been recorded hundreds, if not thousands of times. When a song has been recorded that often, sometimes it's best to stick close to the original, which is what you'll get on this album. The key here is the wonderful mandolin playing of Jimmy Ryan, combined with Alley's beautiful, understated vocal that tells the haunting story in riveting fashion.

The most unique cover of the album is the most unusual choice, but it fits in perfectly, with Rhianna's "Man Down." Performed acoustically, with nothing more than mandolin, acoustic guitar and piano, this album allows Ms. Stoetzel to showcase her vocal range and styling. The musicianship and powerful vocals highlight how dark this song really is. It's a departure from Rhianna's version, but is still very, very effective in it's delivery.

This album is a brilliant debut from an artist that is clearly dedicated to her chosen profession and will only go in one direction. I'm sure you can surmise which direction I believe she will be going. We have not heard the last from Alley Stoetzel. In the meantime, check out her website where you can stream the album, learn more about Alley, get in touch with her and find out where she's playing. We can look forward to many big things from this young lady out of Boston.
- Americana Review


"Alley Stoetzel steals the show at Smoken’ Joe’s fifth anniversary party"

By Bill Copeland
It was a great night for Alley Stoetzel at Smoken’ Joe’s Fifth Anniversary part last night. Stoetzel was clearly the show stopper, scene stealer, big to do when she unveiled the country roots music she’ll be releasing on her upcoming E.P.

This new dive into roots country worked out well for Stoetzel. A shuffling two step and mandolin melody gave her the appropriate backdrop. She worked her voice like a magic wand, conjuring many sweet, pretty high notes as she navigated her way through the genre and through her own rangy possibilities. Her new E.P. What We’ve Been Up To will be released soon, and based on what she did last night, it should be a huge success for her. Her murder song “Man Down” was loaded with appropriate self-restraints, roaring range, and shifting dynamics, all put to good use in service of a very good song. Stoetzel’s band was also amazing, featuring Jimmy Ryan on mandolin. Guitarist Peter Parcek was on hand to support Stoetzel with his phrases, the lines he’s honed to perfection by years of experience and exploration. - Copeland Music News


Discography


"What We've Been Up To," Lunar Notes Music
Debut EP currently getting radio airplay on the college radio stations of Greater Boston and on roots music radio outlets from California to Australia.

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Bio

Berklee-trained singer Alley Stoetzel (pronounced stet-sel rhymes with pretzel) has returned to her roots with a debut EP, What Weve Been Up To (released Sept. 4, 2012) a heavenly slice of Americana that was astoundingly quick in the making.

The record, with backing from local roots music legends Jimmy Ryan and Duke Levine, has already garnered the 27-year-old notice. She was entered in Songlines Best New Music showcase as part of September's Americana Music Festival and Conference in Nashville, where she performed at the iconic landmark, Roberts Western World, and Honky Tonk Central.

She has also performed at two of Greater Boston's most-noted roots music venues, Club Passim in Cambridge and Johnny D's Uptown Music Club in Somerville.
This is a remarkable development considering that this represents a musical evolution that only began in May for the one-time R&B; and soul singer, who has nevertheless kept a presence in the blues via guest vocalist spots with the legendary David Maxwell and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.

As she grew up in Andover, Mass., Alley was drawn to the rootsy music of artists such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and the Grateful Dead, but she also felt the tug of personal heroes Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, so she set out on a career as a popular performer of soul and blues in Boston-area clubs.

At the urging of a new manager, who had heard the high lonesome beauty of her voice beneath the soul, Alley began to re-explore the genre that better allows the nuances of her vocals to shine. It turns out to have been a magical reawakening.

The springboard to this record was one guest spot with the renowned Jimmy Ryan and Duke Levine, with Jimmys band Hayride, at Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge. Her performance of Long Black Veil that night brought down the house and so impressed the players, that they, too, paused to applaud. Less than five weeks later with no other rehearsals besides two scratch sessions with Jimmy the crew settled into Woolly Mammoth Sound studios and in just two days astonishingly breezed through the EP's six songs, most done on the first take.

The magic was felt by everyone especially Alley. The renewal of her early musical love ignited like a brushfire in a field of tumbleweed, and the rest is or soon will be history. Whether shes yodeling like Patsy Cline, channeling her inner Alison Krauss or crooning like Carlene Carter, it is delightfully clear that this full-circle return to her roots was meant to be for young Alley Stoetzel.

One of the great benefits of this transformation is the platform it provides for Alleys originals. Much of her songwriting has been done solo at her piano, a departure from the high-energy brassiness of her soul and R&B; performances. It remained largely a secret, known only to those friends and fans with whom she had shared home-shot videos on YouTube. The acoustic format of this new band became the perfect canvas for Alleys originals, the first two of which are highlights of this record.
Those pearls and the diversity of her covers from Hank Williams to Appalachian-style Rihanna shows that Alley Stoetzel has a bright future on the Americana scene.