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Review: Becca Stevens Band, 'Perfect Animal'

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Music reviewer Tom Moon is overwhelmed by the volume of singer-songwriters he's hearing these days. He says there are so many out there, that great talents can get lost in the din of all that earnest strumming and humming. But Tom's found someone he thinks occupies an especially sophisticated niche. Here's his review of "Perfect Animal" by the Becca Stevens Band.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Becca Stevens has been performing since age 4 when her father, a composer, formed a family band called the Tune Mammals. She studied composition and guitar at the New School and over the last 10 years has been building a following in New York for her unconventional and sometimes quirky originals.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IMPERFECT ANIMALS")

BECCA STEVENS BAND: (Singing) I want to leave you time, plenty of space, so that I'm still a muse when you write. I want to take it easy on inner child.

MOON: Stevens writes with a rich sense of imagery and allegory. Her songs move around a lot. She favors jagged, hiccupping rhythms and her melodies emphasize the vivid color tones of chords.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TILLERY")

BECCA STEVENS BAND: (Singing) The heart's necessities include the interlude. A false (ph) constricted piece on which the sun can brood (ph).

MOON: Stevens focuses on cultivating tension within a song and then finds riveting and flat-out gorgeous ways to release it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TILLERY")

BECCA STEVENS BAND: (Singing) No season of the soul strips clear the face of God safe golden frozen wind upon the frozen sod.

MOON: There are also a few covers on "Perfect Animal," including Frank Ocean's "Thinkin 'Bout You."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THINKIN' 'BOUT YOU")

BECCA STEVENS BAND: (Singing) I'm thinking 'bout you. Do you think about me still? Do you, do you? Or do you not think so far? 'Cause I been thinking 'bout forever.

MOON: Stevens sees the covers as a way to bring listeners into her original work. I'm not sure she needs them. Her songs can be challenging and that's part of their allure. Let's face it - many singer-songwriters set their words to simple chords in familiar or really worn-out strumming patterns. Stevens looks for detours and wild ear-stretching sounds that make you want to listen again.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "105")

BECCA STEVENS BAND: (Singing) A necessary fall, it's portion to the heart (ph).

BLOCK: The latest from the Becca Stevens Band is called "Perfect Animal." Our reviewer is Tom Moon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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