New York singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson captures intimacy in a bottle on The Big Freeze | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

New York singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson captures intimacy in a bottle on The Big Freeze 

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click to enlarge Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson

Rachel Brennecke

Listening to The Big Freeze (Don Giovanni), the fifth album from New York singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson, feels a little like eavesdropping on her innermost thoughts—an impression that owes as much to the raw, stripped-down acoustic arrangements as it does to Stevenson’s songwriting. “A lot of my songs, I write for myself to deal with something that I am not ready to share with anybody,” she told Noisey in March. But while she expresses her vulnerability through music, she’s not always totally forthcoming. It’s easy to hear anxiety and pain in “Dermatillomania,” but if you don’t know what its title means, you might not realize that Stevenson has struggled with that mental health disorder—it’s characterized by chronic, obsessive-compulsive skin picking. Stevenson recorded almost all of The Big Freeze at her mother’s house: “That house was the place I felt safe,” she told Stereogum in March. “That’s where the place I was sad, the place where I became who I am.” She translates that sensation of safety and intimacy into the album’s lilting, country-tinged strumming and soaring vocal melodies—she can wring the last drop of emotion out of every note. She’s one of the most underrated artists in contemporary rock, but by her own account, she writes for herself first, rather than an audience—and The Big Freeze is a gift waiting to be discovered.   v

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