Photo by Ben Lew

FM premiere: Stephie James unveils seductive track ‘Company’

"I’m a sucker for the ballads and all the layered strings make this one feel like a movie. Lyrically, the song is a pretty direct narrative and as honest and autobiographical as they come"
10th January 2024

Nashville-based songwriter Stephie James unveils her debut album, As Night Fades, (out Mar. 1) blending dreamy doo-wop with romantic Americana rock ‘n’ roll. With influences from Iggy Pop to Judy Garland, James crafts a subtly subversive record, evoking nostalgia while introducing something new. As a musical powerhouse, James has toured with Anita Baker, worked with artists like John Bettis, and collaborated with the legendary John Baldwin for mastering.

The album, produced by Andrija Tokic, promises a cinematic experience, kicking off with the sultry Company, a smoky narrative set in an East Nashville dive bar. James’ musical journey reflects a fusion of influences and a departure from traditional rock, creating a dreamy, romantic atmosphere. Her single Company captures a reverb-laden, orchestral vibe, showcasing her diverse musical palette.

James, a DIY enthusiast since her teens, emphasizes her dedication to exploring different musical paths, paying homage to influences like Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. With a rich history from opening a coffee shop for all-ages shows to touring with Anita Baker, Stephie James brings a unique blend of experiences to her debut album, promising a cinematic, romantic, and dreamy space for listeners.

“I went from fancy touring with Anita Baker,” says James, “rubbing elbows with celebrities and playing beautiful theaters, to touring in a van with smelly guys once I started my first band, Blue Mountain Belle. But I knew I wanted to work on my own project.”

James explains: “Company is quite possibly my favorite track we’ve recorded so far…I’m a sucker for the ballads and all the layered strings make this one feel like a movie. Lyrically, the song is a pretty direct narrative and as honest and autobiographical as they come. Musically, there was so much space to create this sort of reverb-laden, dreamy, romantic vibe. Billy Contreras stacked the strings, piece by piece. We set out to make something that was kind of a departure from the straight-ahead guitar, bass, drums, rock n roll style and highlight some of my other influences that are buried a little deeper throughout the album – all things Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim meets Leiber and Stoller production.

The song opens fairly sparsely, with a drum machine throughout; it’s the only song on the album to feature upright bass and eventually some live orchestral-style drums fall in as the song fills out. It might feel like an anti-single and maybe won’t be everybody’s cup of tea…but I think it embodies much of what this album is really about, paying homage to many of my influences and creating this cinematic, romantic and dreamy space.”

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