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Ten years into her solo career, having in 2010 gently stepped aside from the DIY punk scene with her acclaimed A Record debut, Long Island based singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson revealed her darkest record to date earlier this year. The Big Freeze comes four years after the jaunty pop of Cocksure, and quickly cements Stevenson’s status as one of the strongest voices in a sea of contemporaries, many of whom cite the stage veteran as an influence.
In a scene which, in recent years, has witnessed the ever-growing popularity of the likes of Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers – who continue to sell out venues across the UK -, Stevenson’s The Big Freeze mirrors the introverted excellence of these counterparts, and much like them carries a serious weight built through a true dedication to their art. Laura Stevenson has been ahead of the trend since before it even emerged, and by stripping it all back for The Big Freeze sounds more assured than ever, even among the darkest of subject matter.
Live, Laura Stevenson has regularly supported friends from the DIY punk scene that inspired her. In 2017, punk troubadour Jeff Rosenstock appeared at Pitchfork Festival with his guitar imploring people to listen to her music. Yet it is in the intimate, stripped back environment that Laura Stevenson now shines, offering a captivating blend of on-stage patter and note perfect performance. At her headline show at London’s Camden Assembly, the upstairs room is wrapped in her delicate music, her honest themes and her hugely personable nature.
The evening unfolds as a celebration of female voices emerging from the DIY scene. Northampton’s Katie Malco – simultaneously on tour with Tangled Hair – opens with her powerful vocals delivering tales of loss and hope, whilst El Morgan – also of indie-punk outfit Personal Best – packs a punch. The camaraderie is clear, as each comment on Mogan’s family heirloom amp being used by all across the evening.
This intimacy drives the event, as Stevenson breaks between each track to explain a little behind the music. They’re all quite dark, she jokes, revealing another track about death. Yet as dark as the subject matter may be, it’s filled with beauty and hope. It’s therefore no surprise that throughout, the room recedes into pin-drop silence.
As the likes of Julien Baker and Pheobe Bridgers take to bigger rooms, Stevenson remains comfortably and passionately as their forebearer. Ten years ahead of the game, perhaps now even more than ever she is not one to be frozen out.
Laura Stevenson’s UK tour continues on the following dates:
22 June 2019 – Cavern, Exeter
23 June 2019 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
25 June 2019 – Broadcast, Glasgow
26 June 2019 – Night People, Manchester
27 June 2019 – Exchange, Bristol
3 July 2019 – Whelan’s, Dublin
Tickets for select Laura Stevenson dates are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.