Simone Stevens
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Simone Stevens

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic

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"The Big Takeover Magazine,-Simone Stevens, upcoming Fall issue"

Let’s establish one thing: Stevens can sing. The unheralded Brooklyn belter (by way of L.A. and Hawaii) has a confident voice she employs without bluster, adding a light country finish—a twangy trill—to close lines, out of the Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, and Belly’s Tanya Donelly school. She can write and co-produce, too, which is also key, since there’s been no shortage of chanteuses working bluesy chamber folk/alt.country alleys these last many years. Like Haroula Rose, she obtrudes a direct warmth and sunny avoidance of guile, without trace of Pollyanna palaver (see the utterly welcoming “ABC”: “You can come right in/Just open up the door/And slip off those shoes”). From the shuffling “Lady Luck” (be a lady tonight?) to the piano-prettied Lucinda Williams cover, “Right in Time,” from lilting violin to peddle steel, Stevens is a constant elation. - Jack Rabid


"Simone Stevens-Rock and Reprise"

A year or so ago, an album by Fiery Blue hit the Internet, a collaborative effort of a songwriter (Paul Marsteller), a producer and multi-instrumentalist (Gabe Rhodes) and a vocalist (Simone Elyse Stevens). At first listen, it seemed a pretty fair offering of pop tunes, but nothing mind-blowing. There was a story behind it, though, and if I am a sucker for anything, it is a backstory. Turns out the three found one another on the Internet or at the very least used the Net as a way of joining forces. The result thus far has been two well-received albums of what I would call pop tunes (read my rather exuberant review of the first album here) and a solid future, should they continue to record together. That initial conclusion? Disregard.
Because the lines are pretty well drawn in Fiery Blue (Marsteller is the songwriter, so far; Rhodes is the band, with the exception of some acoustic guitar from Marsteller; and Stevens is the vocalist), I was surprised when I found that Stevens had been working on her own album in New York City (Marsteller lives in San Diego, Rhodes in Austin). There were no indicators--- nothing that hints that each person wanted to be more than they are. But here it is--- Right On Time--- the first Simone Stevens album, and it is a beaut.
I pride myself on giving each album I choose to review (and make no mistake, I chose to review this) a minimum of ten listens all the way through with extra attention paid to highlights. I am thrilled to say that I didn't need them. Oh, I've listened to it ten times at the very least, but I knew right from the start this was solid. I had already fallen in love with the voice through my hundred-plus playings of Fiery Blue's albums. Well, Right On Time proves that Stevens is much more than a voice.
She can write. She is in the same league as Marsteller who is penning outstanding songs for Fiery Blue. She has that same touch, a certain sensibility towards the melody which all writers of pop songs need. And as all good writers, she embraces the melody just outside the formula. Throughout the album, she steps to the right or left of the standard and makes a good song better with the slightest of moves: an alternate rhythm, a line moving downscale instead of upscale, a chorus which does not fit with the verse but which really does. When you hear it once, you're surprised. After a few times, though, you come to expect it. It gets under your skin.
The biggest example is my favorite song on the album, Below Zero, which begins vaguely like a song I've heard too many times before until it is taken on a beauteous ride in the chorus and given a long and superbly arranged ending reminiscent of that fifties and sixties feel I mentioned earlier. I remember that feel, those production values, on songs like Gogi Grant's The Wayward Wind and Timi Yuro's Hurt (better known to many as The Big Hurt). And before you go all crazy on me after sampling this album, I am not saying Stevens writes or sings in a fifties or sixties style. I'm just saying that the production touches upon that era. I mean, I loved that sound. I loved the bigness of it. In places, Stevens nails it.
Of course, Below Zero is hardly the only song of note here. The album is packed with them. The folk-poppish Sail Away, beautifully arranged in the fifties/sixties style I mentioned (with superb background vocals, I might add, and carried further along by fitting sax solo); the free-flowing and catchy ABC; Just Because, which sounds as if it came right out of the early sixties; and the eerie and folkish Pigeon Bird.
Then there is Free which clocks in at 1:51 but could go 10:51 without me blinking an eye. It is a short bit of folk/pop/psyche with a fitting squeaky clarinet part which makes the song. It is an anomaly, true, but slipped between the heart-stopping love ballad Right In Time and Below Zero, it is as if they are three parts of the same movement.
I can only think of two other recent releases which approach Right On Time in quality and sound and fifties'/sixties' pop feel: Shade's Highway and Mariana Bell's Push, both at the top of my list of albums people need to hear. I'm adding this. I love this album. To quote Hymn For Her on their song, Drive, “It's a killer”.
- Frank Gutch Jr.


"Simone Stevens-Right On Time"

Perusing the cover images we had a feeling right off the bat that we were gonna dig Simone Stevens' music. Instead of a phony perfect photo pushing generic cleavage (which is the cheap image almost every up-and-coming commercial female artist uses), Simone appears on the cover of this album with her cool tousled hair obstructed by a peculiar pair of large goggles...and the images inside incorporate the same odd goggles with various visual distortions. But make no mistake, Right On Time is not an underground difficult artsy album. Simone writes and records music that could easily appeal to hoards of folks. Her songs are somewhat subdued and subtle...and they feature wonderful free-flowing melodies. The heart of the music are the vocals. Ms. Stevens sings with a cool confidence but she never sounds like she's pushing too hard or forcing herself. We're tempted to describe this as Americana pop...but such a description doesn't quite capture what's going on. These twelve soft pop tunes are proof positive that this young lady is off and running on what we hope will be a long and rewarding career. Killer pop tunes include "Let Me In," "ABC," "Just Because," and "Below Zero." Great stuff that comes straight from the heart. Top pick. - Babysue


"Simone Stevens-Right On Time"

Having recently reviewed Fiery Blue’s CD, I was familiar with the talents of one Simone Stevens before hearing this CD. After listening to this solo album, I’ve got to tell you that I am pretty much sold on whatever style she is selling. She’s a very talented vocalist, for sure.

And, you know what’s more? She’s also one of the more versatile acts I have heard in quite some time. There’s a little bit of something for everyone on this disc, ranging from the folk-ish sounding cuts like “Dream” and “Sail Away,” both of which show the influence that Jewel must have been on her.

There are other sides to Stevens’ sound, as well. She dazzled on the opener, the moody and emotional “Let Me In,” and even tips her hat to a retro-Country sounding feel on “Just Because.” Though he doesn’t sing with her on the track, it’s almost as much of a showcase for Greg McMullen, who lays some great 70s sounding guitar work.

Maybe the best showcase for Stevens’ talents comes on the passionate stylings of “Every Rose Has A River” or “Below Zero,” which sounds like a number one hit at AAA radio if I have ever heard one! Stevens can go in a lot of different musical directions, but she can go in each of them well, and that’s the most important thing!
- Music News Nashville


Discography

Right On Time, LP, 2011

Popeye's Blues, LP,2004

Happy Hour, LP, 2003

Collaberations:

Vocalist for Fiery Blue, an alt-country outfit based out of San Diego and Austin; Our Secret, LP, released 2011, and Fiery Blue debut LP, released 2010.

Airplay:

"Sail Away" off RIght In Time was just featured on www.breakthruradio.com by DJ Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover Magazine.

Also, several songs off Right In Time have been showing up on playlists on various stations in Belgium, France, and Germany.

Photos

Bio


Simone Stevens is a New York based singer/songwriter. Early influences were her parents' torrent of good books and great music...the Beatles, Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.Along came Led Zeppelin and The Cure, blasting out of truck stereos on the edges of eucalyptus forests and campfire. Then came the New York City subway artists and the little stage of Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn, where she cultivated her sound that could be likened to a chance encounter between Chrissie Hynde and Emmylou Harris, with Lucinda Williams and Cyndi Lauper doing back up.

The new LP, "Right On Time" marks her first time producing (alongside Nadim Issa at Let Em In Studios in Gowanus, Brooklyn). The album blends folk with rock and alt-country sounds, with visitations from saxophones, fiddles, the occasional squeaky clarinet and yes...a synthesizer. Subject matter ranges from romantic love, to jukeboxes in bars, to visions of pastural angels; culminating in one cohesive album featuring some uber talented New York based musicians: Greg McMullen, of Trixie Whitely & Glen Branca; Kris Bauman of The Dang It Bobbys; Holly Laessing and Jess Wolfe, of Lucius; and a duet co-written with Paris based singer/songwriter Arman Penn.

When asked to describe her music: "I would say having been raised in such diverse environments as Los Angeles and Hawaii, and ending up in New York City (my favorite locale so far) has been one of the greatest influences on me and the music I write. Add to that, the two years I traveled the world while working as a shopgirl on cruise ships, selling everything from skittles to emeralds. Images the sea, the city and the countryside are woven throughout the lyrics. On recording: "Making the album was the excitement of working in the intimacy of the studio with
players I've admired on stage....they amazed me...best time ever.”