Owen Stevenson - 'Right Here And Now'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to shine our gaze onto Owen Stevenson, a singer songwriter who has been lauded as one of the Chicago area’s premier performers. He’s taken the stage at legendary venues like the Cubby Bear and the Hard Rock Cafe, and his previous releases have been met with notable fervor. His latest endeavor, which is due out June 24, is entitled ‘Right Here, Right Now.’ I’ve gotten early access to it, so let’s delve right in. Does it hold up against the bar Stevenson has set for himself?

Now, I’m inclined immediately to like Stevenson. My studio is based here in Chicago, and I love it when a local performer comes across my desk for the Spotlight. Putting my local bias aside, though, his music is rather lovely and enjoyable. It’s essentially singer songwriter music with a pop rock flair. This results in friendly, consistently catchy efforts - something I’m certainly not opposed to as long as the quality is equally consistent.

‘Come To You’ opens up ‘Right Here Right Now’ with a bold statement. Stevenson’s band is sharp, his songwriting is equally solid, and above all, his production is great. I’ve said it many, many times, but it always bears repeating: I get so much awfully produced music. Everything in Stevenson’s mix works, and that’s so refreshing.

One of the problems with writing as a “singer songwriter” is falling into a predictable, trope-filled rut. In truth, the label has become a bit of a stereotype for critics like myself who get inundated with acoustic, pseudo-insightful jaunts through love and tragedy. Stevenson avoids these tropes pretty well by evolving his sound from track to track in a noticeable fashion.

Case in point: ‘Another Day Another Dollar’ evolves from the album’s opening by introducing an uber-soulful soundscape which Stevenson occupies well. ‘Love Is The Best Thing We Can Do’ then incorporates brass sections into that soul with one of the best written tracks on the album. The record doesn’t reside only in that soulful style, however, as Stevenson moves on to some Eagles-style pop rock on ‘Right Here And Now.’

‘Over You’ is an interesting ballad of sorts, because it’s essentially a mostly-positive break-up track. Stevenson muses about his failed relationship and its lack of merit, but also acknowledges that its failure is the catalyst for his life moving forward better than before. It’s a nice change of pace from your stereotypical break-up track.

Now, ‘Right Here And Now’ is a long record, so let’s dig right into the latter half’s most important sections. ‘Save Me’ offers up Stevenson’s best lyrical effort on the record, and it’s matched perfectly with a heavily bluesy electric guitar. ‘Place Called Love’ infuses Stevenson’s musical personality with an Americana-style delivery, something that fits him splendidly.

The finale, ‘Morning Sun,’ is a great track to end an album of emotional turmoil - it’s forward-looking, it’s positive, and it’s a statement of overcoming the obstacles Stevenson hurdles through on the album.

‘Right Here And Now’ is an album worth keeping tabs on when it drops later this month. Owen Stevenson’s nailed his culmination of indie rock and roll that’s injected with soul, blues, and pop.

http://www.owenstevenson.com/

Owen Stevenson is Right Here And Now, New Album June 24th

Owen Stevenson-Right Here And Now

Talented singer/songwriter Owen Stevenson is set to release his newest full length project, Right Here And Now, on June 24th. If you missed our previous feature about his Edgewater EP, be sure to check that out.

The EP was impressive and an excellent display of Owen’s song crafting and vocal abilities. The full length Right Here And Now allows Stevenson to go above and beyond with 12 well crafted songs that let us know Owen is versatile, consistent, and able to deliver hits again and again.

Right Here And Now holds your attention with beautiful and lush instrumentation, emotion evoking soul, and a pop appeal which leaves songs stuck in your head long after they’ve ended. Owen weaves in and out of pop, rock, acoustic, blues and funk music creating an epic quilt full of engaging and impactful frequencies.

With pristine production, well balanced mixes, and amazing musicianship, Owen hits this one out of the park.

 

Some tracks worth paying attention to include Save Me, Right Here And Now, Growing Old, and Love Is The Best Thing We Do. However, all 12 tracks flow smoothly to create a solid album worthy of a spot in your music collection.

I’ve been jamming to this advance copy on repeat all day but you can visit Owen’s website and be prepared to show your support on June 24th when the album will be available.

View the video for Come To You below. Subscribe to Owen’s YouTube for more.

 

Owen Stevenson – Right Here and Now

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Lighthearted Pop with a touch of Country/Indie substance. Owen Stevenson will debut his album Right Here and Now shortly, however we have been given the full preview. In doing so, the first initial reaction to Right Here and Now was the bubbly energy bursting from each track. While the album demonstrates an original format by Owen Stevenson being a singer-songwriter, it does not go unnoticed that Stevenson is entering a genre field that has been filled to the brim with other artists such as Howie Day, Daniel Powter and Luce.

Standing out my be in favor for Stevenson, however carving out a dedicated audience could in turn be part of Stevenson’s charm. For some years Stevenson has entertained on Cruise Ships, traveled the world and as a freelance musician, made a name for himself in the city of Chicago. While it can be seen that Stevenson has paid his dues in one way or another, Right Here and Now will have to do the speaking for Stevenson now.

 

Back to Right Here and Now where the 12 song track list grows as each song fades into the next. At times one song is presented as a personal recollection of lost love, friendship and more situations revolving around love. With the track ‘Better’ the beginning verse depicts a wholesome effort to please this individual who takes breakfast in bed, until the narrator starts to understand that being used and this person deserves better. So…this track can be played as a break-up/growing as anindividual and seeing the truth for what it turns out to be.

A refreshing take is Owen Stevenson does not shy away from the complicated turn of events. Stevenson says what’s on his mind without fault and demonstrates an earnest way of telling a long tall tale.  Like in Stevenson’s song ‘Save Me’, where the staple question of ‘What makes you think you can save me and when did I ever ask for such help?’ Utterly resists the classic ‘throw it in your face’ routine and in simple terms asks why are you the right person for the job. 

Owen Stevenson displays a collective batch of songs reflecting on life and in the premise of ‘keeping it real’ based terminology. Stevenson chose to fear nothing and shows his best efforts by playing music he enjoys and has put in the time to attain.

Websites for Owen Stevenson

Website
Facebook

Link to interview and live in studio performance.

Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well. For some reason the Thanksgiving week post is one of my favorite posts of the year here on Skope. I love the holidays, once that egg nog sets in and I begin to get reflect about all the awesome musicians that we have covered this year and we hope for another year of the same. Last Friday night, MTV Hive had Wild Cub live in NYC and online at their website. This streaming of live shows is truly here and this trend will only get bigger. I can envision a tour of a band I love playing live every night while I watch it in Boston, MA on my Roku in bed. Another exciting news piece is for the first time, the core copyright industries added over $1 trillion in value to the U.S. economy in a single year, accounting for almost 6.5% of the total U.S. GDP. That just shows how much value music rights have and we must protect that while making it as accesible as possible. Now lets catch up with Owen Stevenson as he celebrates the holidays and his new EP in Chicago, IL. Owen is a talented musician with great music and a great story. We caught up with Owen to chat about his music education background, his Kickstarter funded ‘The Edgewater EP’, live music/cold beer in Chicago, and so much more!

Stoli: Where are we talking from today and when you look back on 2013 what are you most proud of? 
 
Stevenson: Today we are talking from my apartment in Chicago, on a rare morning off!  Looking back on 2013, I’m most proud of taking the leap from working cruise ships for 5 years, to pursuing my original music full time on land.  I loved traveling the world on ships, but it was very limiting in terms of the demographic, and opportunities.
 
Stoli: You began playing music at three. How did your family help you pursue your passion for music and at what age did music become more than a hobby
 
Stevenson: I was born into a musical family. My parents met doing musical theatre, and have both performed professionally their whole lives.  I really started to sing at church, where my dad was the director of music for 30 years.  My mom always reminds me of when I would improvise musicals, and operas when she drove me to elementary school
 
My parents were very influential and supportive when I decided to pursue music more seriously. When I was 9 years old, I started performing professionally as a charter member of the Children’s Chorus of Washington, where I got to perform on a regular basis at places like the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall, toured Italy, and learned a professional approach to music.
 
Stoli: Your impressive music education background from Blake High School to Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. How did that help you sharpen your talents and also teach you about the business of music? 
 
I was extremely lucky to have Blake High School as an option.  It is a public school, but also had a signature program for the arts.  I got to work with some great teachers, who helped me get into Indiana’s Jacobs School of Music, which is always up there as one of the best in the country.  I studied classical voice at IU, and am very glad I got to learn all the music theory and ear training, but I didn’t have the drive for classical music like I did for songwriting, and pop music.  What Indiana did, was give me the tools to know how to be able to perform 4 hours a night, 7 nights a week, and still be able to maintain my voice.  So often the DIY musician will burn out their voice trying to play enough to make a living.
 
At Indiana, I also got some great exposure to other genres while performing with The Singing Hoosiers, and the a cappella group Straight No Chaser.  I took music business classes as well, but it was the real world experience with SNC, and various groups that helped me prepare for doing things on my own after I graduated.
 
Stoli: I have your new EP ‘The Edgewater EP’ playing now and I am loving it. How long were you writing & recording this EP and where can we grab a copy? 
 
Stevenson:  I took a short break from the cruise ship summer 2012, and came out to Chicago to lay down some of the tunes I had written with some friends from Indiana.  I hadn’t recorded original material since 2007, and it just felt right to be back at it. 
 
I went back on the ship for one more contract, and wrote the last studio track “Where the Heart is”, and then after about a year of total production, we released the EP in June, 2013
 
You can order a physical copy from CDBaby, and It’s available for download on iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon, and you can stream it on Spotify and places like that too.
 
Stoli: This EP was funded thru a Kickstarter campaign. How does that feel to know that your fans are so loyal that they will help fund new music by you and what parts of the album process did that money cover from recording to marketing? 
 
The Kickstarter Campaign was more than I ever could’ve imagined.  I had been away from so many of my friends and family while on the cruise ship, and was a little nervous that would have a negative affect.  But they came out in full force, and really gave me a boost in confidence (as well as money), to get my career on land back up and running.
 
It covered the production of the EP, as well as most costs for filming 4 live music videos out in Los Angeles.  Luckily I have some cousins out in LA who have a production company and donated their services in that way. We had so many people jump on board. Even if they didn’t know me, they knew my cousins, and were more than willing to help out in any way possible.  It was one of the best feelings ever.

Miss Marshall Live At Monk Space:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x39e2Tuu8o 
 
Stoli: I love the song “Miss Marshall.” What is that song about and when did you write the lyrics? 
 
Ha, I became friends with a girl on the ship named Louise Marshall, and always thought the name would be a cool hook to a song, so I wrote the hook, but the song isn’t actually about her – I just used the name, and put it away for a while.  A year or so later, I got caught in a love triangle, and wrote some lyrics about it.  I felt the old music and hook fit the new lyrics, so I gave this girl in the love triangle a new identity as Miss Marshall.
 
Stoli: If I was to come kick it with you in Chicago, IL where would we go for cold beer and live music? 
 
Stevenson: Well if you’re coming to Chicago for a beer, you’re in the right place.  I tasted a lot of different great beers on the ship around the world, and I’ve never been as happy as I am here with so many craft beers!  Goose Island Wrigleyville has both some great beer and live music, but my kick right now is Mothers Too down on Division St. in the Gold Coast.  I play there every Friday night, and have since found myself there most nights just for a good hang.
 
Stoli: What do you enjoy doing when you are not making music and do you work as well? 
 
Stevenson:  I teach voice and guitar lessons a few days a week.  But outside of music, I am a huge sports fan.  I love all my hometown teams from back in DC – Orioles, Redskins, Caps, Wizards – but I’m also looking forward to following my new hometown teams out here in Chicago.
 
I played a lot of sports growing up – Baseball, basketball, golf, swimming.
 
Stoli: Millions of Americans are losing health insurance or seeing massive increases in premiums after Obama promised we can keep our plans. Do you think the ACA is about helping Americans or helping corporations and how does that make you feel as a citizen? 
 
I fully support the ACA.  I wont lie and say it’s perfect, or doesn’t need improvement.  It does.  I will however say, it is providing the opportunity to millions of Americans to have access to healthcare for the first time since going off their parents insurance, or the first time ever.  I fall into that category, and am extremely excited to be able to play in rec sports leagues, and not worry about injuring myself and going broke from medical bills.  As a self-employed musician, catastrophic insurance is way out of my ballpark for price, and it wasn’t even good coverage. 
 
Does it suck that some people were led to believe they could keep their coverage regardless of if things were changed? Yes, it sucks.  Would it have helped if people were better educated on the implementation of the ACA and Exchanges, absolutely.  Some states spent over $100 million dollars on educating their residents on the ACA, whereas other states have spent next to nothing… can you guess which states are having more problems and complaints?
 
I just feel very fortunate to be from Maryland and Illinois, where they have great exhanges and co-ops set up, and I can finally afford health insurance.
 
Lets stop bickering about whether we can repeal it, or keep it, and start molding it/ironing out the kinks.  Rant Over.
 
Stoli: Where do you turn these days to listen & discover music from Pandora, social media, TV, etc? 
 
I definitely find music a variety of ways.  I know Radio isn’t nearly as big as it used to be, but after not having one for 5 years on the ship, I’ve been listening to a lot more radio in the car.  I Shazaam things all the time, whether I’m in a restaurant, store, train, wherever, and I’ll check it out online when I get home.  I’ve got Spotify Premium, which is an incredible to be able to pull songs up so quickly, and I definitely still buy the occasional physical CD when I’m sold on an artist.
 
Stoli: What is coming up for Owen Stevenson and where you @ online?
 
I’m excited to have a residency at Mother’s Too, a fun bar in the Gold Coast, every Friday night.  And I play once a month as part of the R-Life Live series with Renaissance Hotels.  Definitely heading back into the studio soon with some musicians I’ve had some fun playing with here in Chicago, and I’ll just keep trying to grow the fanbase, get my music out there to as many people as will listen. I’m on Facebook and twitter just like everyone.  One thing is for sure, I’m excited to be back on land and making things happen!
 
www.facebook.com/owenstevensonmusic
Twitter – @owencstevenson
www.owenstevenson.com
www.cdbaby.com/owenstevenson

Owen Stevenson
The Edgewater EP

Singer/songwriter Owen Stevenson has been singing since age 3. Based out of Chicago, Stevenson has amassed an impressive collection of achievements during his career. He was a charter member of the Children’s Choir of Washington, singing at places such as Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center. Stevenson studied at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music where he acquired a BS in Vocal Performance and Theatre. He has also sung with a show choir, The Singing Hoosiers and an a cappella group, Straight No Chaser. Stevenson served as musical director as well and performed the role of Tommy in the musical Tommy, and he was featured I the musical Urinetown. In 2005, Owen formed a seven-piece Pop/R&B band, True Story, and in 2008 they released their debut album. After performing on Celebrity Cruises for the last three years while working on musical arrangements for show bands, orchestras and a cappella groups, Stevenson is now releasing his solo debut, The Edgewater EP.
The Edgewater EP is a six song EP that demonstrates Stevenson’s songwriting abilities as well as his exceptional singing. Owen Stevenson has created some catchy pop music with the help of bassist Josh Murtha and drummer Josh Dresser in the style of singers like John Mayer and Dave Matthews. Although not a full album, this EP is about quality not quantity.
The EP opens strong with “We’ve Got Tonight.” The track is an up tempo song with Jason Mraz influences and a great chorus to sing along to. Stevenson’s singing is spot on with “We’ve Got Tonight,” and Murtha and Dresser do equally impressive work with the bass and drums.
“Miss Marshall” is a song that would sound right at home in a jazz club thanks to the smooth sounding instruments. Stevenson sings the song with a nice style; the verses have a quick rhyming pattern while the choruses are long held notes. The contradiction of the verses and choruses give this song a pleasurable listening experience.
The pop ballad “Where The Heart Is” has a really great sound with an electric guitar complementing Stevenson’s easy going voice. “Where The Heart Is” is a song about finding home, and Stevenson conveys that message with great sentiment. The song’s smooth and casual quality is a nice way to round out the album before the final live track.
Owen Stevenson has already many achievements in his career, and with this solo EP, he will attain even more notoriety. Like previously mentioned, this release is about quality not quantity; there may not be a lot of songs here, but they are all worth the purchase of this EP. The Edgewater EP is great release, and any singer/songwriters will want to check out Owen Stevenson.
Key Tracks: We’ve Got Tonight, Miss Marshall, Where The Heart Is
Craig Kidd - MuzikReviews.com Staff
August 9, 2013

 

 

Audio feature done by Larry London on Voice of America's program Border Crossings, internationally broadcast to an estimated audience of 15 Million.01_Owen_Stevenson_Segment.mp3

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