In an age where even Sheryl Crow has trouble peddling Sheryl Crow-lite pop-rock, prospects seem a little unkind for anyone attempting the same. Step forward California native Samantha Stollenwerck, previously known locally as frontwoman for Shady Lady, a band she put together while at Berkeley College, and latterly through her 2005 solo album Square One. After years of what she describes as “fishtailing”, searching for her sound, she teamed up with producer Jeff Trott to create an album of “Cali-soul”, a phraseology she hopes captures a carefree summer vibe (indeed, the album is tentatively titled Carefree, after the first single). Trott is, of course, famously associated with many of Sheryl Crow’s biggest chart hits, including ‘Everyday Is A Winding Road’ and ‘If It Makes You Happy’, and preview track ‘Oblivious’ feels like a midpoint between those classic tracks and the point where Sheryl arguably jumped the shark with ‘Soak Up The Sun’. Add to that the fact that Samantha was also partly responsible, alongside ex-New Radicals member Danielle Brisebois, for Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Unwritten’ and ‘Pocket Full Of Sunshine’, and some of you may be hearing alarm bells louder than the front row at a My Bloody Valentine gig.
But here’s the good news – Samantha does what she does extremely well. ‘Oblivious’ rocks lightly with a natural confidence that should ensure success, and Trott’s busy but never too cluttered production is effective at giving the song a sense of airy purpose that sides comfortably with the pop-politics of the lyrics. With a new generation potentially about to be exposed to the Lilith Fair effect, there’s a chance that we’ll see a resurgence in this sort of music and Stollenwerck could wind up a key proponent in that, with the right team behind her. It’s a shame that she seems to have dropped her surname for the upcoming release – a move that can only serve to make her more anonymous these days, when even using one’s full name is considered passé and alter egos are prime unreal estate. Still, it would be unwise to bet against her. Samantha performs tomorrow night at The Regal Room in Hammersmith.
BONUS MP3: Samantha Stollenwerck, ‘Carefree’ [via Gibson]
BONUS MP3: Samantha Stollenwerck, ‘One Of Your Tattoos’ [via Gibson]
‘Carefree’ [SoCal acoustic version]
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