This week saw 20-year old indie-pop artist Lennon Stella release her bop-heavy debut album, Three.Two.One. The album starts as an epiphany coming out of a toxic relationship, then growing up, and finding the good in the world and ultimately herself. From bangers to ballads, the 13-track album is carefully composed. The lyricism is straightforward, yet it’s the production and ethereal sound that sets her apart in pop music.
Lennon Stella is not a new name in the entertainment industry. The Ontario-born, Nashville-raised talent traded in her childhood for the spotlight: from viral fame alongside her younger sister, Maisy with their cup-percussion cover of Robyn’s ‘Call Your Girlfriend,’ to being a child actor on the musical drama series, Nashville. Being in the public eye for a decade now, it was only a matter of time before she would branch out as a solo artist. She was always destined to be a singer-songwriter, with both her parents being musicians and naming her after a Beatle.
It is largely a breakup record, kicking off with ‘Much Too Much’ and ‘Kissing Other People’ where she ponders the complications of her relationship. It’s obvious that she’s not afraid to open up about her personal feelings with lyrics like, “That’s how I know that your love is gone / That’s how I know I’m really moving on / ‘Cause I don’t feel guilty kissing other people.”
One of the heavy-hitters, ‘Fear of Being Alone’ blatantly admits her faults of hanging on to something out of… well, the fear of being alone instead of true devotion. Stella’s distorted voice in this track proves her anxieties about the situaion. Strong repetition of lyrics would be a common theme throughout the album that make for those sing along in your bedroom with a hairbrush catchy tunes.
‘Older Than I Am’ is the only song where she really belts it out, and it lies smack dab in the middle of the album. Stella laments on her childhood, and how she grew up faster than intended, “Somewhere I lost some of my innocence and I miss it / My life’s been survival of the fittest but I did it.” The spine-chilling piano number validates her maturity beyond her years, while she confesses her wishes to have had the chance to be a reckless kid.
The most upbeat song,’Bend Over Backwards’ is a standout, with her vocals turned up so high that it evokes Tame Impala-ish vibes. She teams up with 2019 Producer of the Year, Finneas to co-write ‘Jealous.’ It is the shortest song on the album, but perhaps one of the strongest. The album has synth pop written all over it, while Lennon’s moody voice gives it that euphoric feel.
Clocking in at nearly 8 minutes, the tear-jerker ‘Weakness (Huey Lewis)’ is the only song with a feature on the album. It is only fitting that her younger sister Maisy, 16 now, would be the sole collaboration after the duo have grown up and built their careers side by side. The song opens with a childhood recording of Lennon putting Maisy to sleep, then their dreamy vocals fade in. It is an ode to sisterhood and the emotional realities of growing up in the world today. In the second half, the ‘Huey Lewis’ part, she has a slight vocoder effect on her voice, nostalgic for those memories in their childhood house, “where we would fall asleep to Huey Lewis on repeat.” The lengthy interlude is a way to escape and contemplate it all.
Then, there is a surprise sample of Donna Lewis’ ‘I Love You Always Forever’ in ‘Save Us’ which acts as another message to her little sister and going through life’s obstacles together, yet remembering their humble beginnings. Her flawless voice is full of love and emotion.
The album closer, ‘Goodnight’ is like saying “It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later.” It is a soft sign of hope, then it picks up the pace as it breaks down in the outro. It is a soothing break after a groovy-filled run of songs. It is production heavy and completely different from the whole album, but it makes sense. It drops off at the end, leaving unresolved and has the listener wanting more.
She is a real singer – the kind that gives songs life. Although this isn’t her first time around the block, it is just the beginning for Lennon Stella. Her debut album is a perfect introduction to her incredible artistry. It is deep and personal. Stella shared in an Instagram post that the album feels, “Like the deepest inhale and exhale I’ve ever taken.” She has proved herself to be a unique and compelling new voice in pop music. A melody queen!
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