Shannon Stephens, The Breadwinner

shannon_stephens_phixrI’ve been saying this to myself for awhile now, but I think I’m ready to get it out in the open: there aren’t two female singer-songwriter voices out there that sound alike. None. Every female voice, from those that hum a tune to those wailing down in Vegas share the same vocal chords. And Seattle-bred songstress Shannon Stephens is no different. Blessed with a voice that could drown a thousand angry men, Stephens bears the voice of an angel. It is at once comforting, hospital and way intriguing and it is the most important yet not the only reason to hear her second LP, The Breadwinner.

Stephens’ bears the voice you’d pray to hear coming from your garden on summer’s night, backed by deft players laying down delicate, acoustic-based melodies. It is at times mournful, particularly on the viola-backed “The Ones Who Sees Me,” where simple yet heartbreaking finger-picking moves Stephens voice to a high that sounds like it comes all too easy for her.

Recorded on a laptop with rented mics and a silk undershirt on a hanger as a pop filter, The Breadwinner is as humble record as one could ever hope to hear. Stephens voice lingers like a gentle breeze throughout “The Dream.” While a tender piano steps sparingly into her acoustic framework, the musical musings of Stephens take a backseat to her lyrical mastery. Like so many of the songs on The Breadwinner, “The Dream” is heavy with imagery yet open to interpretation. All this from something so simple.

While there certainly are many crevices within The Breadwinner to discover, it will be Stephens voice that keeps you coming back again and again. Simply put, I’m lucky to have found her.

By Joshua Kloke

[Rating: 4/5]

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