The four tracks of Shannon Stephens’ digital-only EP, Something Good (self-released, out now, shannonstephens.bandcamp.com ) were recorded on a bit of a lark.
Noting her live band’s chemistry, Shannon Stephens decided to experiment and allow the band—drummer Andrew Rudd, upright bass player Terry Mattson, and pianist BC Campbell—to create its own arrangements for her to sing over. Two of the songs are covers: The slinking rendition of Depeche Mode’s “World in My Eyes” benefits from Mattson’s sinuous bass lines, while the Stevie Wonder–penned funk classic “Tell Me Something Good” is given a more playful, twangy treatment, proving the band’s good humor as well as Stephens’ vocal command.
On the other two tracks, we get to hear Stephens revisit a couple songs from her 2000 self-titled debut; these originals reveal her band’s understanding of its leader. On “My Feeble Heart,” Rudd provides a syncopated beat that drives the song forward even as Stephens is falling apart, singing that the “self-confidence I had is dwindling rapidly.” Campbell’s playful piano lines buoy the song even as its lyric dips. Campbell uses the keys again to set the mood on “So Gentle, Your Arms,” creating a spacious place—somewhere near Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song”—where Stephens’ intoxicating voice can tell the heartbreaking story of a time now long passed.
Shannon Stephens and her band play Fri., Oct. 18, at Fremont Abbey. Tickets available here.