stella. takes listeners on ‘a study in balance’

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Similar Artists: Francis Aud, Matt & Dan, Frances Luke Accord
Recommended Tracks: “Study In Balance,” “Dreaming” and “Something About You” 

New York singer-songwriter stella.’s new EP A Study in Balance arrives as something in between confessional diary entries and rudimentary pop exuberance as conveyed through alternative pop ballads and feel good melodies. 

The EP, out today, June 14, follows stella.’s 2018 EP Amalfi and the singer’s five-year hiatus from music. The singer joined forces with Brooklyn-based producer and co-writer Katie Buchanan for this new set of songs. 

The project gains its first signs of promise in the dramatic opener “Something About You,” filled with quiet piano plucking and DIY-sounding drums. The singer’s voice remains lightweight and agile, darting around like a loose rabbit in a yard avoiding the gaze of a nearby dog. The song is largely confined to a solemn attitude and sound as he delivers the chorus, “Hey stranger / Remember me? / I know it’s late / It looks like you’ve had a long day / It looks like you’re kind of lonely.” stella.’s voice is far from shoddy, but it sounds as though he is still aiming to find his footing on moments of more intense exercise. 

The opening guitar strums of “Dreaming” are strangely reminiscent of those found on Katy Perry’s “What Makes a Woman.” Many of the songs on the EP sound tailor made for the radio-friendly sounds of mid-2010’s pop — which was notorious for its irresistibly catchy choruses filled with “oh’s” (think: “Good Time” by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen and “Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood). Yet, despite the effort to craft a catchy earworm and hook listeners in, songs such as “Dreaming” fall short of this benchmark. 

The EP’s titular track is a sonic high point of the project, his indie quirk voice is cheery and fit for a sunny day. In contrast, the singer delivers poignant lines such as, “I keep myself busy til your call comes / Make me get lost in nostalgia / Walk by your old place to see if the lights are still on / Or if you moved away like you said you would,” on “Not Today.” The slow, somber ballad does well at conveying the singer’s complex emotions and resonates stronger than the lighter, pop numbers. Stella.’s honesty propels the ballads into greater territory, with ubiquitous themes that touch upon heartbreak, struggle and healing. These stronger moments on the EP make up for the small losses of rudimentary pop, and distinguish A Study In Balance as a simple and heartfelt effort filled with sonic sincerity. 

Keep up with stella.: Instagram // Spotify

Avery Heeringa
Avery Heeringa
Avery Heeringa recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago where he studied communication and journalism. He is passionate about all things entertainment and popular culture. When not writing about music, he can be found in the aisles at his local record store or discussing new album releases with his friends.

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