Review: Bec Stevens ‘Why Don’t You Just’

On her most recent EP, Why Don’t You Just, Tasmanian-turned-Adelaide singer-songwriter Bec Stevens weaves a powerful yet heartfelt sonic space with her talent for lyrical depth and directness to create a six-song meditation on grief, loss, and belonging. Full disclosure, I’ve been evangelising about Stevens for years now. I think she’s quietly but consistently one of the most passionate and captivating voices in Australian music, wrapping a raw, unpretentious vocal and lyrical sincerity around deft melodies and binding it together with an Australian accent so sharp and jagged it could cut glass. There’s a kind of alienated melancholy in Stevens’ work, particularly on tracks like “Stitches,” that feels similar to the numb, fragile sadness of Julien Baker – the place where your feelings are so weird and sad and messy that you’ve moved beyond performative sadness and into the world of pure, direct poetry.

Why Don’t You Just is Stevens’ long-awaited second EP, and her first with Adelaide-based label Hobbledehoy Records. It’s an older, more introspective collection of songs, but it kicks off with the absolute barnstormer of a single “10 Minute Drive.” It’s a wrenching anthem about the kick-to-the-teeth feeling of losing someone, whether it’s to death or a break up, and being reminded about them every day because you still live in the same city, with an aural space that builds to a cathartic crescendo before simmering down to make space for the ringing introspection of the rest of the EP.

This small collection of songs will draw comparisons to artists like Camp Cope and other phenomenal Australian female artists, with good reason, but it puts me more in mind of Melbourne band Ceres, who also perform this kind of meandering, meditative emo-revival style with a strong Australian twist. Especially on tracks like “Time It Takes”, the slow build of the dense sonic soundscape has the intricate clarity that makes this most recent crop of thoughtful Australian rock so gripping. The songs are perfectly constructed and produced, without losing the essential bare-faced sincerity and realness that makes Stevens’ work so appealing. Overall, Why Don’t You Just is an impressive sophomore effort by Stevens, and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on what she does next.

Why Don’t You Just is out February 15 through Hobbledehoy Records.

4/5

Ruby Niemann

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