Laura Stevenson’s new, self-titled studio album out this Friday on Don Giovanni Records, follows the heartbeat of the life-altering events. From the excitement and tribulations of giving birth to her first child during the COVID-19 pandemic to the powerful rage born from a turbulent situation in which someone she loves was harmed and nearly killed, the new collection is a dynamic and heartbreaking celebration of life. Laura previously released ferocious album lead “State” and power-pop reminiscent single “Don’t Think About Me” to rapturous acclaim.
Stevenson has shared “Sky Blue, Bad News” single + video, directed and animated by Stephanie O’Byrne, where the stages of grief unfold against the stillness of a clear summer day. Stevenson’s band (featuring bass-player Mike Campbell and drummer Sammi Niss) kicks into a Crazy Horse-like canter, a song in particular which may remind listeners of Stevenson’s recent Neil Young covers EP with longtime collaborator Jeff Rosenstock. Set against a backdrop of shimmering guitars, the song’s narrator is waiting to receive life-or-death news, blaming herself directly for events that are ultimately out of her control. “Did I hurt someone, did I shirk something? Was I ever any good? Was I ungrateful?”
Laura Stevenson was produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Hop Along, Dinosaur Jr.), and features longtime collaborator and bandmate Jeff Rosenstock on guitar. While it is often emotionally heavy, Laura Stevenson never strays from its true motivating force: love. “The album was written as a sort of purge and a prayer,” Stevenson says. When it finally came time to record, she was pregnant with her first child. “It was a very intense experience to re-live all of the events of the previous year, while tracking these songs, with my daughter growing inside me, reliving all of that fear and pain and just wanting to protect her from the world that much more. It made me very raw.”
The album follows Stevenson’s 2019 career milestone The Big Freeze, celebrated for its “finely detailed, wrenchingly intimate songwriting” (All Songs Considered), and a 2020 NPR Tiny Desk (counted as one of the year’s 20 Best). Recorded at The Building in Marlboro, NY, Laura Stevenson is a sincere portrait of a human heart in all its vibrant colors. More than anything, it is about bearing one’s whole self in the face of those you love—uncomfortable, and exposed, but vital, present. Here.
Photo Courtesy: Bon Jane