With the Taylor Swift effect taking hold and country pop music commanding massive attention, Stephanie Manns’ latest album Fool Like Me takes a welcome diversion back to more traditional country sounds, layered with hints of blues and folk. Stripped of the pristine sheen that the pop fuelled offerings demand, it allows a more open and honest sound to ring through, the vocals offering a more earnest quality.
Though it’s opener Vincent Black Magic which stays most true to the country sound, Juliet with it’s string harmonies,and Lullaby with it’s gentle guitar melody both offer more delicate hints of the genre, culminating in a sound which starts to play on the Americana sound. Elsewhere the more electro title track couples smooth vocals with intricate arrangements and a solid drum beat that demands more mainstream acclaim.
Though the shift from her debut album Come Closer is subtle, the album clearly highlights Manns’ growth as an artist. Whilst being in a similar vein to it’s predecessor, holding equal measure of love and loss, it also adds extra depth to the sounds fusing folk, country and Americana throughout each song. For me however it’s Last Train Home which is the stand out song of the album, being introspective enough to offer a glimmer into Manns’ thought processes whilst boasting hooks which draw the listener in.
Nevertheless, Manns is also able to spot a winning track, and with Sloe Gin finding a re-awakening from the vaults it’s her mutli-instrumental talents which shine through, the ukulele harmonies featuring prominently. Honest and raw, yet equally boasting a sense of confidence and maturity, Fool Like Me reconfirm’s Manns’ status as an artist to watch.