Stephen's quick rise to prominence has been absolutely incredible to witness. Record after record he's sculpted wildly enjoyable, thought provoking, genre defying, emotionally charged music that has, to say the very least, impressed. I've been waiting for his 'Sincerely' LP to arrive and now that it has, we can look back and enjoy what has occurred and appreciate the groundbreaking tenacity of this young artist.
As a constant purveyor of electronic music, sound design is often the focal point of my discerning ears: the way in which sounds and oscillators are combined with filters and matrixes to construct musical notes unlike anything in current existence. It is this movement of scientific musical advancement that keeps me intrigued and addicted to music discovery. While Stephen has developed a sound design uniquely his own, he has also married it to blues guitar, and piano breathing new life into a relationship that for some new listeners has become seemingly antiquated.
However the ingenuity doesn't just stop there, lyrics make music relatable, singable and above all emotional. In a day and age where many pop lyrics are simple placeholders for notes or rhythms, it is easy to forget about the powerful impact thought provoking lyricism can provide. Lyrics and societal frustrations have always been interwoven, which is why music has continued to be such a beautiful catharsis. It's 'Sincerely' refreshing to see all of this come together in such a robust way.
According to Stephen,
"My album is a story of triumph, of letting go of all the uncertainty in my head and learning to walk the path of my own heart. Sincerely's about realizing how much better this world would be if we all loved ourselves, if we weren’t afraid of being vulnerable and honest. It doesn’t matter who’s president or what technology we invent or what extremists we destroy, the only thing I know is this:
"There will never be peace if we do not all love ourselves."
"And so I believe my generation needs a revolution. We don’t love ourselves. We are trapped in our heads because we were told to figure it all out and in our failed attempts we stopped having fun. We abandoned everything we loved doing because we thought it was slowing us down. We thought growing up was the process of holding on instead of letting go, and now we’re all collapsing under the weight. We don’t know what to do anymore."
"But we can do so much. We can change the world. We have to stop complying to the doubts in our heads and start following our hearts. We have to stop judging each other and start accepting ourselves. We have to stop living selfishly and start giving back. We have to have the courage to take a chance. My generation has all the power if we work together. This is my invitation to the ones who love."
Stephen's album is a perfect realization of where I thought music of the 2010's would be heading, but yet hadn't quite eclipsed. Music artfully crafted using the old with the new. Skillfully articulated and performed with such prowess that I see this album as a exciting roadmap of what lies ahead. Many have pointed out that much of a decade's defining music comes from the latter 5 years and with 'Sincerely,' the music of the 20teens takes flight.
Listen to the entire album courtesy of Halfway House here.