Release Date: Apr 23, 2013
Record label: Don Giovanni
Review Summary: No one is ever gonna take my life from me; I lay it down, a ghost is born.The first time I saw the cover of Wheel, I thought it was a simple “four seasons” type picture, with a spring, summer, autumn, and winter tree spaced evenly on a circle. It took me a long time to look at it more closely, but when I did I realized the obvious: there are six trees. But more than that, there are six iterations of the same tree, or at least that’s how I interpret it.
Laura Stevenson was born with musical blood in her veins. Stevenson's grandparents are both notable musicians. Her grandfather Harry Simeone wrote the Christmas classics "Little Drummer Boy" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and her grandmother sang in Benny Goodman's band.
“Some day in the not too distant future, America will dip its corners deeper into the ocean, the waves ever grinding at its shores as tectonic plates shift and sink.” This is the press release for Laura Stevenson’s Wheel, and it’s so evocative I wish I could finish it off myself. I have my ideas, of course—I think we all do, mostly about the scenes that envelop us or the evacuation that saves us—but the idea of ending Stevenson’s own personal apocalypse is futile. Her indictment of a sinking America is one that lingers, waiting for “imminent death” but not knowing if it even fits among the big terrestrial event she’s describing.
On punk-turned-country-leaning chronicler Laura Stevenson’s first album, 2010’s A Record, she was frank about her tendency to obscure her feelings. The precious, old-timey piano waltz of “Beets United” found her intoning, in her sweet vinegar voice, “I need to stop singing in code/ To start ringing true because true rings only.” But it’s taken her until her third LP-- the second for Don Giovanni-- to feel she’s reached that point. She’s also dropped …and the Cans from her stage name (though they remain her backing band) and decided to deal with her demons: the realization that death is inevitable, and the ensuing battle between succumbing to futility, self-destruction, or balancing somewhere between the two.
Naming your album Wheel is basically like opening up a never-ending jar of metaphors: metaphors for the cyclical nature of all things, for life and death, for infinity, and, of course, for literal forward movement. Even though they are varied, all these concepts have somehow wiggled their way onto Laura Stevenson’s third studio release, the aptly titled, Wheel.The first thing that peaks the ear is the sheer accuracy and depth of Stevenson’s voice. There’s a familiarity that emanates from her that’s immediately appealing.