Singer-songwriter Becca Stevens refines her sophisticated hybrid on her fourth album, Regina | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Singer-songwriter Becca Stevens refines her sophisticated hybrid on her fourth album, Regina 

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click to enlarge Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens

Shervin Lainez

New York singer-songwriter Becca Stevens has built her career combining styles—she expertly teases out complementary elements from folk music, jazz, R&B, and pop to support her sophisticated writing. She’s never sounded more ambitious than on the new Regina (Groundup Music), where she nearly subsumes her own quiet virtuosity in dense band arrangements and rich vocal harmonies—often she simply multitracks herself, but an impressive cast of singers (including Laura Mvula, David Crosby, and Alan Hampton) also helps out. Though “Queen Mab,” which borrows its lyrics from Shakespeare, has a heavy late-Joni Mitchell vibe, and the moody yet driving “Mercury” almost sounds like new wave, none of Stevens’s idea-packed songs can be connected to just one point of influence—their melodies follow unexpected paths, and their arrangements go dark when light might seem more natural or become ethereal when heft feels called for. This is her first record billed to her name alone, but she continues to work with the same tight-knit crew—bassist Chris Tordini, drummer Jordan Perl­son, and keyboardist Liam Robinson, all of whom play with her tonight—and her own nimble ukulele, charango, and guitar weave deftly into the tight polyrhythmic arrangements.   v

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