Stephanie Fagan Over Yonder

It’s no wonder why Stephanie Fagan’s Heart Thief was voted the top disc of the year by Country Fried Rock. This is the most amazing voice I’ve heard in quite some time. She’s featured by the new label Yonder Music.

Fagan’s first disc was Ideas For Your Earbone. I haven’t heard it, but the title alone is intriguing. In Texas growing up, we had all kinds of “bones,” from an honesty bone to the traditional funny bone. It’s a southern term I’ve always favored as a way to talk about the spiritual or physical body.

Fagan’s voice is very strong and her lyrics are as well. She learned to play a few chords on the guitar so that she could accompany herself. I loved her honesty when talking to No Depression’s Stacey Zering.

Musician? Who said I was a musician? I play guitar about as poorly as a person can and still be tolerated by an audience, and I only learned to play the little I do out of pure necessity.

I’ve written songs and sang my whole life but it wasn’t until college I learned to play on a $20 used, no-name guitar with nylon strings because I was sick of the hassle of trying to get up with “real” musicians and having creative differences. I knew the way I wanted to sing it, and I just needed something playing along, nothing fancy.

So I learned a few chords and that’s about the size of it. I still don’t play bar chords and my musician friends rag on me all the time about it but honestly it’s just not something that’s super important to me. So far I’ve been able to get by with the few chords I know, and if one day I hit a creative wall with it and it starts to hinder my songwriting, I’ll learn more.

You kind of get the idea that one day she will learn more, too. She’s very good for someone so young, but still open to broadening her scope. Musing about her, Country Fried Rock said:

She…is a product of her generation–she grew up listening to singles, and only recently has discovered the pleasure of an entire album. Interestingly, this has led her to re-examine some of her former favorite songs and find the artists’ deeper catalogs and histories–a completely novel concept to Fagan!  Prior to the last two years, she could not even identify artists, simply individual songs, but at the encouragement of the producer, Missy Jones of Yonder Music, Fagan began to immerse herself in albums from start to finish and found that the cohesive concepts greatly improved her own writing for (Heart Thief).

Though their voices are not similar at all, the first time I heard her sing My Old Man, she caught me the same way Janis Joplin did when I first heard her on the radio. That instant feeling that there is something deeper here worth listening to.

Now, about her current album, Heart Thief…A lot of folks like Beautiful Man, which is a nice song. To me, though, she really comes into her own with Prodigal.

Photo by: MIchelle Springs

It’s easily the best piece on the album. It’s an eery song in the best style of country (or blues), one that sounds like it comes straight out of the mountains from a wail that is beyond humans but just happens to flow through them as its only avenue of release.

For shame, for shame. I trusted you with my soul. For shame, for shame. You led me down. Down to that promised land. For shame, For shame…

There is something beyond time about this song and her voice on it. It sounds like it could have been sung a hundred years ago, there is something so primal about it.
Spring was my second favorite song on the album. It’s another one that shows some of what her voice can do. Like Two Strangers, it gives you a feeling that this is a voice to watch.

The Diner Song was a fun song about drunk dialing. It had that twangy, steel guitar feel. Coffee, toast and grits. It’s morning and I drink myself awake. Hair of the dog, I was drunk last night and called. That was a mistake!

It’s a refreshing and humorous love song. Later, she talks about the rest of the day…

Two hours break between morning shift and late put my tired back on track. Don’t mind the work ’cause the money doesn’t hurt.

Similar to how Prodigal is the epitome of a wailing country song, this is a classic fun song where the lyrics are well crafted and flow to make a story you really want to sing along with. I really enjoyed Heart Thief. Definitely worth a listen.

Goes good with: Alison Krauss, Dixie Chicks

Rating: 10/10

Buy “Heart Thief” at Amazon.

Buy “Heart Thief” at CD Baby

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