Stefanie Keys
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Stefanie Keys

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter




"Stefanie Keys' debut release 'Say You WIll' (review)"

"Stefanie Keys is Powerful Soulful Magnetic JuJu"- Rhiannon 08

" San Francisco-based Americana-rocker may have nabbed a record deal with her gutsy, carefree version of Janis Joplin's ' Try ( Just a Little Bit Harder), ' But her own songs on the debut CD Say You Will- including the organ-driven I-found-my-man affirmation of 'Whiskey Bottles' , the slick blues rock of 'Freight Train' , and the jazzy rocker 'Hover'- are what should give Keys an edge in the crowded adult-alternative market. The singer-songwriter-guitarist's bold delivery and musical muscle recall Melissa Etheridge, and she tapped members of RatDog and Spearhead to assist her in the studio. Despite the rock, jazz and blues on the all-too-short nine-song disc, Keys' finest moments come on Say You Will's most introspective, laid back cuts: the title track and the chilling slow-burn opener 'Girl I Don't Know' which deserves to be mentioned among the best songs of 2008." ~ Michael Popke Milwaukee Express, 2009

"Keys beautifully blends her own brand of folk, rock, and soul, live. Keys strong songs and powerful performance embody the spirit of a true front woman. As a singer-songwriter, she unleashes the power of her soulful voice and reveals her vulnerable side too. In her live show, she features tunes from her original album, Dead Horse Road, coupled with a few Janis covers, and is accompanied by the stylings of Dave Shul on guitar (Spearhead), which makes this rhapsodic blend of country rock, folk, and soul come together beautifully."- Merle Saunders Jr. - Milwaukee Express - Jan 09

"CD Review - Stefanie Keys - DEAD HORSE ROAD (2011)"

You may have heard the fabulous Janis Joplin-esque vocals of Stefanie Keys as the current vocalist for Janis's original band Big Brother & The Holding Co., but she is also a powerful and diverse songwriter. In 2011 she released her second album of original songs (the lone exception being a poignant bluesy rock adaptation of the Clint Ballard tune "You're No Good", previously made a hit by Linda Ronstadt) three years after her debut CD, SAY YOU WILL, was released.
I first heard Stefanie's amazing voice at a house concert in 2008, where she was quietly promoting SAY YOU WILL. She performed with a weathered 12-string guitar, completely acoustic, and I just couldn't believe the power of that voice.
The 8-song DEAD HORSE ROAD has an overall Country-rock vibe to it. Stefanie recorded these songs in Nashville with her brother Peter Keys, who produced the album as well as assisting in writing and arrangement of the music. Keyboardist for the supergroup Lynyrd Skynyrd, he lent his keyboard skills to the beautiful ballad "Searching For My Poppa" and the Country tunes "BackPocket Man" and "Dead Horse Road," reminiscent of the style of Jennifer Nettles and Sugarland. Stefanie's funk background is brought forth in the lively "Room to Grow." My favorite song on this disc, though, is "Sun Will Rise," a fine R&B number brings to mind Beyonce or J Lo. The songs in this album are diverse, but come together in a sweet sequence that makes it a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end.
-Aphrodites Muse -

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

Stefanie Keys is an artist who recently released her third album Open Road. She utilizes a number of professional musicians including Dave Shul (guitar), Ronnie Smith (drums/ background vocals), Dave Jess (bass), Raleigh Neal (keys) and Peter Keys (piano). She plays a mix of blues, country, rock and Americana.

There isn’t anything out of place with this album and that's the one thing that held it back. The production is super polished, every instrument is played perfectly in time and there isn’t a minor imperfection to be found. I wanted a little more of a raw ’70s style recording with a keyboard player who was hungover from too much partying the night before. Instead the production sounded like contemporary mainstream country/pop.

There is a good amount of heart on this album but almost all of it comes from Keys’ vocals. Everything else is very much like a studio session from technically proficient players who play familiar tropes.

The singing is consistently pretty fantastic. There are however some pretty different sounding styles. Up first is “Open Road” which is a mix between classic rock and country. You can hear traces of bands ranging from The Who to Bonnie Raitt. It’s a catchy song but also predictable.

“No Tomorrow” was a bluesy vibe while “3 Hours Till Yesterday” is an anthemic country/rock hybrid. “City Life” has a lounge-y late night jazz vibe. It felt a bit random compared to everything that came before. I thought the highlights were “Amos Crane” and the closer “9 O’ Clock.”

Suffice it to say I think Keys is a great singer and a good songwriter. It’s obvious she was a fan of music from the ’60s and ’70s. There is nothing wrong with that. I just saw so many production tricks, derivative guitar fills and other parts that have been overused coming before they got there. It would have been nice to to hear some more experimentation and more out of the box thinking of where the songs could go.

Open Road will unequivocally be enjoyed by many. The songs have a broad, general appeal that is hard to deny. - Divide & Conquer, December 8, 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

The songs on this album have an extremely commercial sound and appeal. Normally coming from us, such a statement would be the kiss of death. But in this case, that does not apply. Stefanie Keys has achieved the impossible. She has recorded songs that are very commercial and yet...they still have cool substance and style. Keys seems like one of those ladies who would be great to hang out with. We instantly loved her image...long blond hair, a big floppy hat, and striped bell bottoms. All of this immediately reminded us of Janis Joplin. Upon reading the press release, we realized the similarities were more than just visual. Keys toured with Big Brother and the Holding Company for five years. Open Road will hopefully reach its intended audience...those folks who want familiar sounding music, played with focus and style. Stefanie's voice is, of course, the main ingredient here. She's got a cool soulful voice that really cuts through the mix. Backing Keys are Dave Shul (guitar), Ronnie Smith (drums, backing vocals), Dave Jess (bass), Raleigh Neal (keyboards), and Peter Keys (piano). Cool groove-oriented tracks include "No Tomorrow," "Sleeping Lady," "Cold Day," and "9 O'Clock." - Baby Sue

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

I like this album quite a bit. Stefanie Keys has a great classic voice. She's also got a good range in terms of moods conveyed. The album has a tendency to feel a bit disjointed at times, though. When it leans toward the bluesy rock end of the spectrum is when it really shines the brightest.

Track by Track Review

Open Road
I love the vaguely raw 1970s rock and roll vibe on the guitar that opens this. As the cut develops to the full arrangement it has a real country feeling to it. It gets more into a pop rock kind of vibe later.

No Tomorrow
More of a contemporary bluesy rocker, this is great stuff. As classic as the opener was, I think this slightly mellower tune is even stronger.

3 Hours Till Yesterday
Here is another that's very much in line with a bluesy rock sound. This is most closely related to electric blues, but it has some healthy helpings of rock music in the mix. I love the backing vocals on this thing. They soar.

Sleeping Lady
This is more of a mellow rocker. It has some adult contemporary reference points. Yet, it does manage to rock out a bit as it continues.

City Life
Here is another that's closer to mainstream pop music. It's almost like a harder rocking Abba in some ways. Sure, it still has some of the alternative rock and other sounds we've heard throughout the disc.

Cold Day
The journey toward pop music is even more complete here. This is electronic based and quite cool. While it's modern pop, it's also got an intriguing edge to it.

Another that lands closer to the modern school of pop rock. This is good, but perhaps not as striking as some of the others.

Highway To Your Soul
More of an Americana, bluesy rock vibe is heard on this number. It's one of the better tunes here, and definitely a step back in the right direction.

Amos Crane
This bluesy rocker is exceptional. It's powerful. It's also a contender for best song here. I some ways it makes me think of the bluesiest music in Heart's catalog. I like it a lot.

9 O’Clock
The closer is a great bluesy rock song. The sound is classic, and the tune is the other contender for best cut on the disc. - Music Street Journal, December 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

The third full length album from Stefanie Keys, Open Road, is her most fully realized effort yet. Keys is not merely a remarkable singer; her talents as a songwriter and lyricist have reached their fullest flowering yet on this ten song collection. She is joined by a crack assemblage of musicians who help her realize the potential of this material without ever once seeking the spotlight out for their own considerable talents.
While Keys is often labeled as working in the Americana or “roots rock” genres, she is something far simpler and much more elegant – simply a singer/songwriter who doesn’t limit herself to one relatively narrow musical style. Her avowed influences make this much clear – when you can speak as convincingly about the role bluegrass, Janis Joplin, and Carole King played in shaping your own musical ambitions, you aren’t a performing artist particularly concerned with fitting into the pigeon holes the uncomprehending want you to occupy.

She boldly starts the album off with its title song. There’s a lot of familiar imagery in the lyrics for longtime music devotees, but Keys is adept at pouring old wine into new bottles and spiking it with the unique flavor of her own experience and personality. She does so through the power and suggestiveness of her vocals.

When you hear Keys singing about highways, she has a way with the phrasing enabling her more imaginative listeners to see those same highways in their mind’s eye. The band delivers quite a tasteful backing performance that isn’t careful and bloodless, but actually rings out with the same artfully shaped passion coming from Keys’ voice and lyrical content.

No Tomorrow has a positive, youthful message that never dates. While many of us have heard similar advice before, Keys’ take on this familiar theme is infused with remarkable urgency. There isn’t a second to waste pivoting to this position and her collaborators are clearly inspired by the lively fire in her vocals.

City Life is one of the album’s most artfully handled tunes. It’s nominally a blues, but Keys and her collaborators handle it with style rather than giving us some pseudo-Delta influenced tribute to the genre’s distant past. This is urban blues cut with a fair amount of R&B soul and elicits Keys’ sultriest vocal so far.

Hey is one of the album’s more interesting later tracks for the moody atmospherics it conjures, but it makes one curious decision along the way. The light effects applied to Keys’ vocal are somewhat distracting and don’t really add much to the performance except that distraction. It isn’t enough to sabotage the track, thankfully, but it is an unusual move that curtails the song’s chance to reach its fullest possible audience.

The grittiest moment on the album comes with the intense stomper Highway To Your Soul. After a brief and misleading guitar intro, the song slips into a slamming arrangement that makes great use of space, but also sets a starkly lit stage from which Keys can deliver one of the album’s most impassioned vocals. It’s a great high point near the end of a tremendous album. There isn’t any filler on Open Road and Keys excels like never before on the album’s high spots.

9 out of 10 stars - Indie Music Review, October 26, 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

A fund-raising through the popular 'Kickstarter' made possible the release of the latest album by Stefanie Keys, a singer and songwriter from San Francisco. Her debut album "Say You Will" from 2008 and the subsequent "Dead Horse Road" in 2011 allowed us time to meet with a dynamic singer with powerful and soulful voice that country and country rock songs brings in which clear influences from folk and blues music processes are.

"Open Road" is her new album consists of ten tracks that Stefanie Keys usually composed with Dave Shul, her guitarist in the backing and also the producer of this CD. The other musicians on this album are bassists Dave Jess, Eva Gardner and Carl Young, drummer Ronnie Smith and Jason Wall, pianist Raliegh Neal McCoy Chance violinist and keyboardist Peter Keys, also brother and mainstay of Stefanie.

The album starts with the title track album "Open Road", a gently rocking song is immediately followed by the showing of the Hammond organ floating ballad "No Tomorrow". What is striking about the listening of this album is that for each track, a catchy riff and ditto melody was devised. We can hear among others "3 Hours Til Yesterday 'country ballad" Sleeping Lady ", our favorite and very beautiful sung track" Cold Day "and" Amos Crane "and in the final soulful ballad" 9 O'Clock "which its Stefanie Keys' voice evokes Etta James.

Often, a third plate determines the future of an artist and that it should also sometimes be the case for Stefanie Keys. "Open Road" is a very meritorious album with ten tracks in a wide range of music, these talented singer proves that they are in all genres without any problem can be her owner. This lady we later definitely hear. - Rootstime, October 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

Open Road, the third album from singer/songwriter Stefanie Keys, draws from a deep well of musical influences to make its impact on the listener. Keys’ artistic inclinations cover a wide array of forms within the Americana genre – there are strong strains of rock and roll, blues, folk, and country coloring this ten song work. It is natural that, growing up around bluegrass music, Keys would pursue such ends, but her muse couldn’t be confined. Keys surrounds herself with a first class collection of musical collaborators, particularly Dave Shul on guitar. Shul provides effective backing vocals throughout as well, but Keys carries much of the album’s vocal work on her shoulders alone. She is the true star of Open Road, but it is for much more than her singing alone. The songwriting on Open Road is a cut above other efforts in the genre and will stay in the memory after it ends.

The title track will certainly sound lyrically familiar to longtime music fans, but Keys’ invocation of tropes isn’t hollow and imitative. She enlivens these time-tested images with personality and inspiration. Keys is a singer who is with every word and the clear-eyed vision for phrasing she exhibits adds layers of meaning to the words. The band dovetails their performance perfectly around her vocal and manages to lightly touch on a variety of musical moods without ever reining the song into one particular style. “No Tomorrow” is a much grittier and hard-hitting track than the opener. The song’s message is a relatively common variation on the “carpe diem” theme, but like the first song, Keys distinguishes it with the white-knuckled passion she brings to her performance.

The relaxed and melodic grace of “Sleeping Lady” might distract listeners from the song’s sturdy, economical construction. There isn’t a wasted note in the song and Keys’ vocal carries the fine lyrics with just the right emotional amplitude. A delicate mood sustains the success of this song and pushing it too hard might have ruined its potential. It builds to a particularly rousing finale. Her social consciousness emerges some on “Cold Day”. She shows off more of her songwriting skills with this track – few songwriters could write about these issues with such perfect balance between powerful observational skills and personal resonance. The musical arrangement finds its own perfect balance between atmospherics and melodic strength. She fires up “Hey” with simmering and soulful blues vocals. The light application of vocal effects helps strengthen the mood and the band responds with a sympathetic performance that enriches her vocal.

“Highway to Your Soul” has an unexpected anthemic quality and hits just as hard as the album’s second track “No Tomorrow”. Keys unleashes the fires of hell itself with her vocal, but it isn’t an unbridled desertion of technique as she shows considerable finesse coupled with that passion during the verses. The album’s final great moment comes with “Amos Crain”. It is obvious from the title that this is Keys’ nod to the tradition of lyrical character study and it succeeds quite well because it meets all of its benchmarks and offers something new. Her lyrics are subtle and well-crafted enough that, ultimately, they reveal as much about the narrator as they do Crain.
Open Road is a bracing and satisfying musical experience. There are few singers working in any genre as skillful and earthy as Stefanie Keys.

9 out of 10 stars - Indy Mindy, October 18, 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

Stefanie Keys and her San Francisco based cohorts score again with Keys’ third consecutive barnburner of an album, Open Road. This ten song collection hits all of its marks as a convincing slab of electric guitar fueled Americana, but this isn’t merely some elaborate and talented tribute act. Keys uses these time-tested forms as a vibrant vehicle for her explorations of her own life, character studies, and ingenious re-inventions of longtime songwriting tropes and conventions. She’s ably assisted by guitarist and co-producer Dave Shul – his backing vocals, likewise, provides an excellent counterpoint to Keys’ marvelous voice. Keys has endless variety. She’s quite capable of conjuring a desperate, bluesy spirit on some songs infused, as well, with a hard-bitten rock and roll spirit. On the album’s more delicate cuts, she shows off her well honed sensitivity without ever allowing the track and its lyrics to tumble head over heels into sentimentality.

You know that an artist is confident and on point when they are willing to open their album with the title track. “Open Road” doesn’t tread on new thematic territory for this sort of music, but Keys brings enough of her personality and personally unique imagery to bear that it draws a sharp distinction between this song and others of its ilk. Shul and her other cohorts in the band deliver restrained and eminently tasteful performances throughout all of these songs and the opener clearly announces their intentions. It isn’t easy for a top flight musician to forgo their ego. When you hear a group playing this tightly and serving the song first, it’s a sign that you, as a listener, are in exceptionally good hands. That feeling continues with the album’s second song “No Tomorrow”. Again, Keys’ songwriting doesn’t necessarily find some revelatory new ground to cover with this relatively familiar theme, but the singer and her band mates take the song on with unabashed enthusiasm that makes it an enjoyable experience.

She hits another peak with the song “3 Hours Till Yesterday”. It’s a song with a hard push on the listener and undeniable spirit resounding from its first minute on. There’s even a lightly raucous edge that she manifests that the band plays off of in very thrilling ways. Open Road takes a sharp turn into the bluesy and soulful with the next song, “City Life”, and the spark for that is one of Keys’ most exceptional vocals to date. It has spontaneity or at least the suggestion therein, as her vocal displays tremendous emotion like she’s engaging it in live performance for the first time during recording. “Amos Cain” has plenty of corresponding antecedents in popular music, story songs about a particular character, but none are quite like this. Keys shows some genuine literary flair with this composition and the band provides her with exceptional backing.

Open Road marks a new high water mark for Keys and her songwriting. There’s an abundance of accessible songwriting here while there’s an equal amount of material that plumbs much deeper and shows a fearlessness that defines all great songwriting. Stefanie Keys has left her mark, but she isn’t done yet. This exceptional performer and writer continues to grow and her latest effort marks the next inevitable stage in her development.

9 out of 10 stars. - Valhalla Music Blog, October 18, 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

California based vocalist par excellence Stefanie Keys’ third album Open Road is the peak of her recording career so far. The ten songs included with this new release are a deceptively ambitious group of compositions that doesn’t necessarily experiment, but it certainly explores virtually the full purview of Americana music with a wide open spirit and impeccable chops. The songwriting doesn’t attempt to remake the wheel but instead begins with the fundamentals and builds from there. She isn’t afraid to move from a gently rendered acoustic track into a slow burning and muscular soulful rocker. Credibility and confidence alike come from every song. The album has superb production that gives it a spacious quality while still surrounding it with the right amount of musical weight.

The title song starts the album on an excellent note. She’s obviously a patient performer and songwriter on this release, content to allow songs to develop organically, and never attempting to force the song’s potential to bloom too fast. Her vocal phrasing is dramatic and attempts to fully embody its imagery and storytelling aspects. “3 Hours Till Yesterday” is one of Open Road’s cleverest bits of songwriting, but it doesn’t crassly announce itself or pander. The same energetic but careful confidence electrifying the earlier songs is present here as well and the band’s inspired response makes the song even better. Her storytelling talents as a lyricist come to the fore on “Sleeping Lady”, but it reaches high musically and makes a sonic impact as well. Her penchant for a well-assembled song comes through here too. Few listeners will expect the late turns it takes, but they will be happy they came along for the ride.

“City Life” is an immensely stylish outing, but it isn’t all gloss and no substance. Keys’ musical cohorts turn in their most nuanced performance yet and create a deeply felt and bluesy landscape for her voice to inhabit. The slowly unwinding, even stately, quality propelling “Cold Day” forward is quite appealing and Keys’ writing skills shine through once again. The vocal effects applied to Keys’ singing in post-production might not appeal to some, but others will undoubtedly find that they add much to the song’s mood and narration. “Highway To Your Soul” is one of the album’s most convincing and rugged tracks. The solid base the band gives Keys to work from allows her the chance to let loose her most passionate vocals yet. Open Road’s highest point, lyrically and musically, comes with the character-driven track “Amos Crain”. There isn’t a single other moment in these ten songs when vocalist and musical arrangement come together in such a simpatico fashion.

Open Road ends gently with the track “9 O’Clock”. There’s a lovely effect achieved with ending the album this way – it works as a final, emphatic period on the album’s overall coherence of mood and theme. Much of Keys’ work is centered on character and voice and this last song embodies those strengths quite well. Her third album is truly a moment when it all comes together for this great singer and songwriter.

9 out of 10 stars - Carlito's Music Blog, October 18, 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

Few artists working within the Americana genre can lay claim to be the sort of well-rounded talent that Stefanie Keys is. There are many fine singers working today, men and women alike capable of turning a relatively mundane phrase into performed poetry by virtue of their phrasing alone, but few actually bring together melody, musicality, and message with such artful coherence and range. Keys is equally at home with gut wrenching blues or R&B as she is essaying the gentlest of acoustic reveries. Her latest release, the third full length album in this California native’s short career, is a ten song confection entitled Open Road and there’s some significance here. Keys writes, sings, and plays like someone for whom the road ahead is indeed open – no more obstacles, trials, or struggles are left to be overcome before Keys can engage listeners with the fullest expression yet of her experience and consciousness. She achieves all of that here with semi-shocking ease.

The loose-limbed tone of the opener is harbinger of what this album is all about. Confidence doesn’t always need to stomp its feet or beat a fist against its chest to announce its presence. “Open Road” begins the album in fine, quietly audacious fashion. While the music might forgo any brash theatrics, the lyrics intermingle familiar imagery with rugged personal turns that hint at the singer’s struggles to discover the open road she sings so convincingly about. The second song “No Tomorrow” has a palpable sense of urgency that comports beautifully with the lyrical message. Despite listeners’ familiarity with that message, Keys never backs away from it and somehow gives it a new spin thanks to the bloodshot eyed force she puts behind it.

The R&B poses she strikes on the atmospheric “City Life” are well supported by the band’s equally evocative and layered musical performance. The musicians assisting Keys with realizing her musical vision never exert any more force than necessary to make their sonic point and certainly embody the hoary musical axiom that the notes you don’t play matter more than those you do. “Cold Day” personifies that approach as well. Keys attempts taking on a subject of social significance with this song and succeeds in communicating her point of view without ever becoming heavy handed or dogmatic while the band does just enough to surround her voice with a colorful, not gaudy, musical landscape. Her rocker side emerges for a final time on the two-fisted “Highway To Your Soul” and it is a song that manages to touch on a wide gamut of emotions lyrically while rarely compromising or softening musically. The following song, “Amos Crain”, strikes a stronger contrast with “Highway To Your Soul”. This has the same richly layered acoustic backing of the earlier “Sleeping Lady”, but Keys steps up her game lyrically quite a bit and gives us the album’s best narrative, a lyric full of pathos and humanity. Humanity is a defining characteristic of this release. Keys often sounds like someone who would be singing these songs even if no one were listening – the fullness of her expression on the magnificent Open Road leads listeners to believe this might be her most personal statement yet.

9 out of 10 stars - Indie Music Reviews

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

his is the moment when it all comes together for Stefanie Keys. After listening to her latest album Open Road, it seems that her first two releases were dry runs, or dress rehearsals, for the full on exhibition of her talents on display with these ten new songs. She has mastered all the techniques of the Americana form and its respective genres. There’s no tentativeness in her setup, no wavering in her vocal phrasing, and the melodies fueling these tracks are hard to get out of your head. Instead, the album plays like an emotional experience, a controlled catharsis that also manages to entertain the hell out of casual music fans and hardcore devotees alike. This is an artistic statement that never loses it capacity to entertain its target audience.

The opening cut and title song locks the release into a specific mood. There’s a hard won gravitas surrounding Keys’ vocals, lyrical content, and the sharp musical backing she receives. Moreover, there’s also a easy going confidence coupled with this. She sounds steady and assured, but the presentation is equally solid. “No Tomorrow” shifts gears slightly in comparison and finds Keys pushing her strong voice to new levels of emphasis. One might find the song’s message a bit familiar, but there’s nothing familiar about the commitment that Keys puts into this song, far outstripping what many of her contemporaries might have readily conjured. “3 Hours Till Yesterday” comes from a similar place. These are much more straight-forward songs than many of the tracks coming later in the album, but their apparent simplicity is no code word for a lack of technique. Dave Shul’s guitar work stands out, in particular, on these two preceding tracks and Keys is clearly wise to align herself with such a top flight musician.

The album’s softer, more nuanced strains rise to the surface with “Sleeping Lady”. It’s a relatively straight-forward musical composition that achieves some complexity thanks to the careful and vibrant weaving of instruments, but even then, Keys is willing to surprise listeners with some late turns the tune takes. “City Life” holds no such surprises in reserve and, instead, treats listeners to, arguably, the album’s most stylish musical outing. The blues and r&b soul get a hearing here and Keys clearly has the voice and lyrical adeptness to mesh well with that genre. Dave Shul gets a final chance to shine alongside Keys with the late track “Highway To Your Soul”. This is the hardest hitting musical moment on the album but never entirely abandons musicality and melody in favor of bludgeoning the listener. The true climax of Open Road arrives with the splendid narrative “Amos Crain”. This is, far and away, the clearest invocation yet of Keys’ prodigious skills as a writer and it receives exceptional complementary musical backing. Open Road has something for everyone. Many albums promise that but few deliver. Keys sounds at home with a variety of styles and doesn’t betray a single shaky moment throughout the duration of this release.

9 out of 10 stars - Band Blurb, October 18, 2016

"Stefanie Keys Open Road"

Few bands or solo artists working today enjoy the chemistry listeners will find on Stefanie Keys’ latest release. Her third full length album, Open Road, features ten songs that sound like they were cut live on the floor moments after the writing was finished. This freshness and seamless marriage of collaborators is no doubt the result of exceptional talented performers working at a high professional level, but they seem to have the sort of artistic telepathy setting apart the truly great outfits from the merely good. Every song comes at the listener with a steel-eyed, but never obnoxious confidence that knows how to present these songs in the best light and with as little fuss as possible. Music like this should never be over-thought. It comes from the heart and should sound as natural as laughter or tears while still being perceptibly shaped by artistic technique that helps realize the potential of these moments.

The aforementioned confidence is ample on the album’s title song. None of the songs on this album run longer than five minutes, but Keys and her band never sound in a hurry. Their deliberateness gives Keys plenty of opportunity to emote and twist familiar imagery into a new experience. The same principle applies to the album’s second song, “No Tomorrow”. This song has much more swagger than the opener and a message longtime listeners have heard in many other tracks, but it takes on different dimensions in the hands of Keys. Keys sounds like she’s singing to herself, an audience of one, and the intimacy of her performance makes the sentiments all the more vital and revealing. “3 Hours Till Yesterday” has a suggestively personal slant as well and shows some real originality in subverting traditional songwriting tropes for her own advantage. Keys holds nothing back from listeners, lyrically or vocally, and her band mates answer in kind with equally committed performances.

She indulges her bluesier side with the evocative “City Life”. It would be quite easily for a group of talented musicians to simply summon up some sure clichés on a song like this, but Keys and her songwriting winks at what we might expect from music like this and, instead, challenges us with a number of understated textural twists and surprises. “Highway to Your Soul” has a hard charging style recalling the album’s second track, but the power is much leaner and more focused here. Keys summons up a wonderful feeling of yearning and determination in her vocal that comes off quite rousing. The well-detailed and careful writing powering the second to last track “Amos Crain” draws out a similarly coherent performance from the band. This is Open Road at its best – musicians and songwriter alike are working in flawless lockstep with one another and the magic is palpable.

Open Road has a wealth of gems, some brighter than others, but the power of the release measured as a whole is quite undeniable. Keys knows when to press her musical case with listeners and when to be much more thoughtful and the missteps common to such efforts are notably absent here. Singer and band are rarely so well matched as they are on Stefanie Keys’ latest release. - Gashouse Radio

"Interview: Stefanie Keys"

How would you classify your music?

Roots Rock Americana.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Early on I heard Carol King, Jim Croce and the Carpenters! A lot of gospel music, and classic rock.

So my top 5 would be:

Janis Joplin

Jimi Hendrix

Led Zeppelin

Aretha Franklin

James Taylor

What do you want fans to take from your music?

Inspiration. For people to follow their passion and dreams.

Hope. That we can have positive impact in the world. We can make choices that allow for freedom and equality. Positivity

Release from stress.


Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

Open Road is an evolution. My previous music fell into a Indie Rock & Southern Rock category, based in an acoustic sound. As a songwriter, my bout with alcoholism, getting sober, the loss of many friends and family members, songwriting has been my best source of expression for turning loss into an opportunity to grow spiritually and offer hope to others. I have delved into my gospel roots here, vocally and musically. With a passion for the more Urban dance and funk grooves that have always tugged at my soul, without loosing my real rock and roll edge. (Touring with Big Brother & the Holding Co. 2009-2014, singing Janis’ songs, re defined rock music for me… from a woman’s perspective.) I always related to the “Boys Club” when it came to rock and roll. I always wanted IN! I also knew I was driven, but Janis revolutionized that old idea. And I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with BBHC and experience the honor of working on the songs she sang that have grown me in many ways artistically.

This release is deeply personal, however there is a more global message in the stories I have chosen to tell.

I believe making music makes a difference.

I have always been broad reaching when it comes to genre. This release moves into a modern soulful sound.

The producer Dave Shul ( Michael Franti and Spearhead) with Co Producer Peter Keys ( Lynyrd Skynyrd, P-Funk) have a musical perspective that are also varied, bringing contrast, my voice, and songs into a new wide open territory.

My New CD ‘Open Road’ Is available now, on CD baby and I Tunes.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

Being an artist begins as an internal work, with questions ‘What do I want to say?’ ‘Who is the character?’ ‘What is the story?’ ’ What is the point?’ , but really, music is ultimately all about the people who you touch. I think of it as being a connection. What people get is not nessicarily what you meant, so there is always a collaboration going on…

As I look back, there was always some music that was a theme in my life. Music has lightened my heart during times of sorrow, and joy in times of celebration, hope in times of despair. I hope I can bring that to others.

OF course creating and collaborating I find most rewarding and fun.

Like anything I find the music business is filled with paradoxes!

There are challenges in the business in getting paid for live shows if you are not a cover band.. (which is odd to me)

And yet the challenge seems to keep me driven to work and keep elevating what I am doing. I am creating success, despite the good old sayings like “Don’t quit your day job”.

It also seems like musicians are not valued enough… this may be a generalization, seems like artists are always doing community work, fundraisers, and involved in special interests that support families, schools ect.. yet the money is not there… go figure..

I think more educational programs to get people to see what music does for the communities might bring higher paying gigs and make funding available for artists who work. l think that most artists do a lot of work to create recordings, play shows, and hustle to make a living. We are making a difference in communities. It would be nice to see the public being willing to pay more at the door, and not expect to get their music for free… just sayin’.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I remember a Day On The Green in San Francisco in the early 80s.

With Heart, Loverboy,and Black Sabbath, that was awesome! I lost my voice from wailing in the audience, cause I knew all of the lyrics to the songs.

I love playing live, to connect in person with my fan base, and my band mates, it is a love fest! To ROCK out is the best fun ever!

Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

On this CD, I am enjoying 2 powerful songs right now. “Cold Day” and ” City Life”.

They are about honoring the power we have as individuals living in a free country to coexist peacefully.

"Cold Day" is about a young African American executed by police in Hunters Point (San Francisco) It addresses the epidemic we are facing with police brutality, power, fear, guns and senseless killing. Fear is a problem. And we do not have to live in fear. We have choices. And “all men are created equal” that is from our constitution. How DO we create peace? We need to put down the fear, and pride, and talk to each other. It is a potent message. A bold cut speaking to this issue. To see that we ALL want peace. Working together we can. We just can’t quit, and go about our lives as if that issue is for “other people” to figure out. Ultimately as people with freedom. we have the power to make change when we unite.

"City Life" is about how we get to be who we want to be. It is a fat groove, about how we are doing as a whole. To take time out to see the magic in living.

It is smooth, funky, melodic, and compelling.

While these tracks are distinctly different, the message is similar. Having a voice, knowing our rights, how we have come to enjoy the freedom we know and love, standing up for our brothers and sisters is important .Having respect for others and for life itself, may inform choices we make in our communities for the greater good. They are both unique. And carry a strong message of equality and how all people can express who they are. These tracks really have a great balance.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?

My evolution musically has become more fluid. I have more confidence to know that if I create something and allow others to also contribute their talent, it becomes so much bigger and more impactful. Its not all about me! LOL!

Each song has its own voice, so I am not pigeonholed into one genre.

My Producer on this latest CD wanted to explore more softer side of my voice, it has been great to evolve vocally on this project and explore new dimensions of what I can do.

I just don’t t feel whole if I am not working musically! I come back to music, and BAM, I understand who I am, why I am here, why we all are here… To create!

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

I think I would have to say Elvis Presley! I think he came up in a time where he was on the cutting edge, and could tell great stories. Also, and his evolution and skills as a performer have always been intriguing. I would like to have some of his juju!!

So tell us what’s next?

I am headed to the UK this week for some acoustic shows in London. and NYC to build some relationships and fan base in Europe.

A campaign of “Open Road” in the national college radio circuit and national radio airplay of my music.

Upcoming tour dates in support of the new release. Playing with my band in some festivals this year!

I am working a new recording project underway due out in the spring.

Placement deals with my music is also a project in the works.

Connecting with a promoter who hears what I am doing live and is on fire to put my band on a tour bus.

Also I have a clear vision of becoming a Grammy award winner.

So I was able to enter "Open Road" to the Grammy ‘s this year.

I am going to keep on truckin’.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my music and ideas! - Vents Magazine, October 20, 2016


Still working on that hot first release.



Stefanie Keys is an Indie Rock artist working in San Francisco and Nashville. From 2009-2014 she fronted Big Brother & The Holding Company. Throughout her career, Keys has been developing a Southern Rock/Soul flavor all her own. Her style has been compared to Lucinda Williams, Beth Hart and Sheryl Crow. "She isn't afraid to move from a gently rendered acoustic track into a slow burning and muscular soulful rocker," says Gilbert Mullis of Carlito's Music Blog. "Credibility and confidence alike come from every song."

The artist's third album "Open Road," released in September 2016, features producer and guitarist Dave Shul (Spearhead) and Peter Keys (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Under Shul's influence, Ms. Keys explored the subtle nuances of her vocal ability in smooth, urban tracks like "City Life" and "9 O'Clock." "Humanity is a defining characteristic of this release," says Charles Hatton of Indie Music Reviews. "Keys often sounds like someone who would be singing these songs even if no one were listening. The fullness of her expression on the magnificent 'Open Road' leads listeners to believe this might be her most personal statement yet."  

Stefanie Keys' band is real music. "She is joined by a crack assemblage of musicians who help her realize the potential of this material without ever once seeking the spotlight out for their own considerable talents," says Shannon Cowden of Indie Music Review. Deep pocket drummer and back up vocalist Ronnie Smith, guitarist/producer/co-writer Dave Shul, latin funk keyboardist Bob Crawford and blues bassist Dave Jess together contribute to Stefanie's song-based artistry. 

Band Members