Words by Emily Hollitt
The power of learning and growing into your own femininity and adulthood is captured perfectly in Stevie Jean’s EP debut, ‘Blame Game’. Encapsulating her growth over her high school years, some of the most challenging and confronting for most young people, full of heartbreak, teen angst and everything in between. Stevie’s Julia Jacklin-like song-writing prowess meets her raspy Corinne Bailey Rae comparable vocal style to give us one of the most powerful and driven EP’s of 2019.
December Song opens the EP with some simple, fast-paced finger picked guitar as her vocals enter coolly over the instrumental. Her delicate delivery hints a subtle anger just waiting to explode as she recounts a tale of falling in love with a close friend who had rejected her. “You’re in his arms, but you’re thinking of mine” she sings, suggesting this friend has a boyfriend, yet still longs for her. “I see the red in your cheeks when I walk in to the room” she sings, exposing she still has power over this person. “You can run but you cannot hide” she unleashes as the song ends on a triumphant note, letting out all the anger and taunting this person suggesting they can run away from all their feelings, but Stevie can see right through it.
Mockingbird begins with simple acoustic guitar before Stevie sings; “This is the bed where we made love, This is the bed where we’d fight and then sometimes even make up, And making up for me it wasn’t so much that we’d agree, as I would just let go” showing she was in a relationship with an incredibly unequal power imbalance. “You made a mockery of my rage so I just let go” she sings, exemplifying how the relationship wore her down. Like the first track, her vocals are smooth and conversational, yet there is an underlying rage that is just waiting to break through, this time coming through much faster and releasing in each chorus.
In Estranged Stevie poses the question; “Was I ever in love, or was it just the drugs?”. Beginning slowly in a more Pop-realm before transforming back in to her signature rock sound for the chorus. Toms drive the track forward with an infectious guitar hook. Her vocals really shine in this track, particularly in the second chorus where Stevie belts in her higher range, demonstrating the power behind her voice and her incredible range. “I’m not saying I wish you’d die, I’m just saying I wish we’d never cross timelines” she sings gently, sweetly expressing her resentment towards the focus of the song before the song builds over layered harmonies before reaching its powerful end.
“You grabbed my face well what did you think would happen?” she sings seductively, opening the chorus of I Like You. Bouncy instruments underline the simplicity of the lyrics as Stevie as she sings about the things she doesn’t like before ending with “I like you”, simplifying human attraction. “I know you’ve got your life and I’ve got my ambitions, but I think you’re awful nice and we should join forces”. Vocal production on this track is standout, adding to the underlying seductiveness of the song alongside well as her smooth and inviting vocal delivery.
Haunting vocal harmonies open Hell In Every Religion before she opens with the most provocative lyric in the EP; “When was the last time you felt less than lonely?”. The song distinguishes itself from the rest of the tracks as it doesn’t analyse her relationships with others, but rather with religion. “I’m going to hell in every single religion…I’ll love who I love while you try to burn me”. “I’m a choked up fucking sinner” she repeats like a mantra, almost mocking the institution of religion and its ideas and restrictions surrounding what makes a person essentially good or bad.
Stevie Jean’s songs were carefully crafted expressing the difficulties of growing up and learning about the hardship of relationships, growing into your sexuality and breaking free for harnesses and restrictions which can be enforced by heavy religious dependency. In such a short amount of time, Stevie successfully pin points some of the most challenging learning curves faced during teenage and young adult years, producing not only one of the most relatable, but in some ways, most conversational pieces of work of the year. With a part of every song able to connect with all of us, Stevie Jean is an artist to keep an eye on, and I cannot wait to see her music grow with her and find out what stories she has to tell next.
Montaigne Complex national album tour
with special guests Miss Blanks and Stevie Jean
- Thursday 7 November – The Gov, Adelaide
- Friday 8 November – Badlands, Perth
- Saturday 9 November – Mojo’s, Fremantle
- Thursday 14 November – Solbar, Maroochydore
- Friday 15 November – The Zoo, Brisbane
- Saturday 16 November – The Norther, Byron Bay
- Sunday 17 November – The Zoo, Brisbane
- Thursday 21 November – Tap House, Bendigo
- Friday 22 November – Torquay Hotel, Torquay
- Saturday 23 November – The Croxton, Melbourne
- Thursday 28 November – UC Hub, Canberra
- Friday 29 November – The Metro Theatre, Sydney
- Saturday 30 November, UOW UniBar, Wollongong