The latest offering from New Orleans singer/songwriter Steph Green, “Devotion” pairs her arresting songwriting with forlorn lap steel and honey-coated, heart-wrenching vocal deliveries.
by guest writer Matt Wallock
Stream: “Devotion” – Thanks for That
If you happen to be plugged into the folk-leaning corners of New Orleans’ DIY indie rock scene, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Steph Green‘s music even if you haven’t heard of Steph Green. She’s lent her talents to plenty of other projects such as Duffy Thompson’s Haywire and Pony Hunt’s VAR!, but now she’s finally branching out on her own with a solo endeavor, and her latest offering “Devotion” is her most arresting song yet.
Today Atwood Magazine is proud to premiere the track, a country noir tearjerker that pairs Green’s piercing songwriting with forlorn lap steel and honey-coated, heart-wrenching vocal deliveries, hinting at something devastating yet redemptive.
“I know that these days devotion’s a dirty word,” Green sings in the opening verse, “But my baby’s all I wanna do.” In the next verse, she clocks “an evil that runs through this town,” underscoring the song’s spooky vintage Western vibe. But the last verse contains the song’s emotional crux: “It isn’t in me to look the other way / And when I look, I look right through you,” she sings, as if addressing a ghost. “You’re always starving, but don’t choke on the cake / when you force me to watch you eat it, too.” Despite it all, our narrator doesn’t sound bitter – she actually sounds humbled, like she’s facing a loss or a wound so profound that it’s warped her whole world.
“This song was a breeze to write and an agony to record,” Green says in a statement. “You know what it’s like when you have a specific idea in mind and you get all weird and persnickety in pursuit of it? That was me. It took some trial and error to strike a good balance with the atmosphere and arrangement.”
For Green, this was an intentionally genre-blurring effort. “I imagined the aesthetic having elements of certain eras and genres I had never tried to mush together before,” she explains. “Eerie, old country music from the late ‘50s/early ‘60s; stripped-down, mostly dynamically static art/garage rock bands from the ‘60s/‘70s; melodramatic British new wave bands from the ‘80s with goofy hair. They all kind of inspired the way this track sounds in one way or another.”
Green is joined on the track by musicians Max Bien Kahn and Duff Thompson, the latter of whom also engineered and co-produced Green’s forthcoming debut album Thanks for That, due next month via Mashed Potato Records. “Devotion” – out December 17 – is the album’s final single.
“Thanks for That was recorded in New Orleans in the three years leading up to the pandemic,” says Green of the project. “At the time of making this album, I was playing as a side musician in a bunch of other people’s projects and fitting songwriting in around that and working a regular day job. The songs were recorded to tape in a kind of funny, laborious manner, with Duff Thompson lugging an Ampex 440 around the city so we could set up makeshift recording sessions in various living spaces.”
“During that time we were also working on Duff’s album Haywire in the same impractical, but ultimately rewarding way,” adds Green. “The album was recorded with different configurations of musicians, all of whom are also songwriters with their own projects. I definitely lucked out to be surrounded by so many talented people to collaborate with.”
Check out an especially haunting result of that process below in our exclusive premiere. Thanks for That is out January 14 via Mashed Potato Records and is available for pre-order here.
Matt Wallock is a writer and artist based in Los Angeles. He’d love to make you a cup of coffee sometime.
Stream: “Devotion” – Thanks for That
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