Album Review | Independent | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5
In a time when young performers are encouraged to enter the music industry by serving academic apprenticeships, most notably in the UK at Newcastle University with the Folk and Traditional Music BMus Honours degree, rather than just falling into it by coast to coast Transit van travel, doner kebab and beer diets and playing to unappreciative audiences up and down the country, who really just can’t wait for the bingo to start, it’s always rewarding to see newcomers emerge almost fully developed. In Nashville, and particularly at the Belmont University, young performers are leaving to join the big wide world armed with Bachelors of Business Administration in Music Business Degrees, setting themselves up in a very lucrative industry, equipped with something more substantial than just raw talent, which depends always on ever changing trends and tastes. Indiana born singer-songwriter Stephanie Lambring has one such degree tucked away in her guitar case and has just released her debut album Lonely to Alone, which showcases her undoubted talent on the disc and her unquestionable beauty on the cover, another vital ingredient in this mad world of music and entertainment. With a distinctly country-folk feel, the collection of songs included here, tackle a whole range of subjects, from racial and sexual prejudice to the demon alcohol and obesity, each one thoughtfully written and tenderly performed. Whilst “Dear Cadence” and “Tonight” address matters of the heart, there are more contemplative moments on the album that address darker aspects of human behaviour. “Vincent” reminds us all of the harsh reality that sexual bigotry is still alive and kicking in the world and Stephanie’s tender ballad provides a sympathetic shoulder to cry on as we continue to wait patiently for the bigot tree to stop producing bad apples, those who endeavour to make life such a misery for all the ‘Vincents’ in the world. Likewise the title song “Lonely to Alone” looks at the even more ludicrous forms of narrow-mindedness that we all encounter during the process of growing up. “I’m a fat girl, I am what I eat, You always say I’ve got a pretty face, Too bad I take up too much space” pretty much sums up the feelings of countless young people I have encountered during my time and I dare say the pattern won’t change all that much sometime soon. The one song included here not from Stephanie’s pen is the only uncertain moment. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this performance of “Baby One More Time”, in fact if it were the first time I’d heard the song, I would probably be swooning along deliriously, but I’m personally a bit jaded with folked-up Britney, having guffawed at Richard Thompson’s version of the song on his 1000 Years of Popular Music album and then again with Nickel Creek’s energetic version of “Toxic”. In fact, I’m actually anticipating a long awaited version of “Oops I Did It Again” on mountain dulcimer and 24-string psaltery. Despite this rather one dimensional slice of criticism, I would thoroughly recommend this album and I look forward to see how Stephanie Lambring’s music career develops.