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CD Review: The Jill Stevenson Band 

click to enlarge 2009, Independent
  • 2009, Independent


On the cover of her impressive fourth release Hudson Valley-to-Brooklyn indie singer-songwriter Jill Stevenson sits at a table surrounded by her four-piece combo, on her face an inviting expression that says “Sit in one of these empty café chairs and spend some quality time with me.”

It’s a good idea. Deftly showcasing Stevenson’s distinctive mix of literate pop, chiming rock, and sensuous soul, this five-song EP is an all-too-brief lunch with a wayfaring, sensitive-yet-tough, and incurably romantic friend. Stevenson can spin a melodic phrase that shines new light on everything from hope to disappointment to the power of dreams, to...well, sex. It’s a memorable 23-minute speed-date that feels like a five-course meal.

Stevenson pulled out the big guns for The Jill Stevenson Band, enlisting veteran producer Peter Denenberg (Spin Doctors, Martin Sexton) and an ace band of pros who have played with such soon-to-be-contemporaries of Stevenson as Suzanne Vega, Duncan Sheik, and Joan Osborne.

The arrangements veer gracefully from lush, layered soundscapes to raw, Al Green funk to anthemic waltzes. The hook-laden radio-ready lead-off cut, “Dreamer,” easily could have been the title track, as it rings like a musical manifesto; delivering a kiss-off to a suitor who would draw her into despair, Stevenson sings with gusto, “Didn’t you know me? /  Did you know I’d be better off lonely? / Better off alone with a dream?” Maybe so. But Jill Stevenson will not be alone with her dream for very long. www.jillstevenson.com.

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  • A glimpse of The Jill Stevenson Band's self-titled fourth release.

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