Sophie Claire Stevens hit the ground running as an artist in the summer of 2018. Those who were fortunate to witness her perform in any sort of capacity felt immediately connected, if not through her warm music, but her even warmer personality. In virtually no time, she was performing alongside Micah Erenberg at the Winnipeg Folk Festival over numerous sets. After a scheduling conflict for Micah, Stevens found herself performing alone on a bill opening for local indie pillar Kakagi, composing a set of her own material with a backing band to boot. With Love, Stevens’ debut LP, sees these songs finally given life beyond the stage.
Stevens succeeds in translating her wholesome energy to tape; her comforting folk instrumentation is inviting, her lyricism gives form to self-deprivation, hopeless romanticism, and processing new beginnings, expressed with the utmost sincerity. “No One’s Happy” summarizes the anxious feelings in these themes into a boppy overflow of emotions that culminates in a deprecating yet relieving sentiment for a chorus that will stay in your head. Stevens’ lyrics are so expressively detailed, so much so that they bare so much emotional weight and significance with each interaction shared within the stories of her songs. Her soft voice carries love and hope for the future as much as it carries pain of the past.
Every track has consistently great instrumentals that, juxtapose to a Sufjan Stevens song, fulfill a melodic and upbeat craving. “Wish Season” eases along a hazy atmosphere with its discrete slide guitar and brushed percussion. The raw piano ballad “Take the Bus” makes a small and brief moment filled with emotional tension.
“With Love” snaps a perfect picture of the empathetic love that Stevens never compromises. It carries important lessons with each lesson and radiates the colour pink. For these reasons, “With Love” is for everyone.
For fans of: Wilco, Joni Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens