Stephan Nance is an extremely unique breath of fresh air. Only 10 seconds into his debut release, A Troubled Piece of Fruit, you will find yourself immediately hooked. One of Oregon’s greatest kept secrets, Nance blends the perfect element of charming pianos and a voice that can truly stand on it’s own. Stephan could very well be the lovechild of Jukebox the Ghost and The Decemberists, which is truly a compliment.
Opening the album is the intriguing piece “I Am Not a Stranger Here,” where a jaunty piano perfectly meet melodies combined with Nance’s quirky yet sugary pop voice. The listener will already believe that they are in for something special…and they are. “Cuddlefish,” proves to be a cute love song with the ocean as it’s playground, using different fish as imagery as he pulls in his catch.
The album takes a melancholic turn as the track “Spring,” enters into the picture. The heartbreaking song is gorgeously done and will pull on your heartstrings immediately. As soft strings enter into the piece one can really feel the emotion in Nance’s voice. The love song journeys through time as “Fall” is the next masterpiece on the record. Not as gloomy as the prior, the subject matter is deep as it is full of regrets and a pass that he wishes he can do over. This song speaks to masses as we all have done things we wish we could change in life.
“Firecracker,” picks the pace back up with a prominent guitar which borders on the blues. Nance’s bright piano and harmonious voice enters with a burst of energy, and ends up being a fun play on words throughout. “Made in Vermont,” chimes in with a lovely horn section, as Nance’s voice proves to be beyond infectious in this song.
“Paid By Weight,” starts off heavy and continues throughout, as each note of the piano is felt within, every thump of the drum’s foot pedal sends a shiver down your spine, and every pronunciation of each word lingers on Nance’s tongue. Up next is the catchy tune titled “Immunodeficiency,” which will have you pressing the repeat button more often than not. “The Song I Didn’t Write,” has the quality of a seasoned songwriter, which is very prominent throughout the entire record. One would find it hard to believe that this is Stephan’s first release. Each track is carefully crafted and meticulously thought out, and it shines throughout.
“One-Way Sea,” is a fun tune that is reminiscent of Jamie Cullum, without the jazz, which is beyond ideal if you ask me. Nance’s voice knows it’s limits and he uses it wisely, as it flawlessly fits the piece. “Resurrection,” is a personal favorite on the album, as the choppiness of pianos and guitar, and even vocals at time, are contagious. His vocals standout more so in this track that any other, as he seems to have a bit of fun with them. Thisimpressive piece proves to be a show stopper, as does the following “Japanese Garden/Jardin Japonais,” The song tells an interesting tale about what appears to be a dream of Japan, with an amazing twist, as Nance starts to sing in French! The surprise is exquisite as it appears more than once in this outstanding track and is guaranteed to send chills in your veins.
Closing out the album is the viral sensation, “Song for Losers,” which is the most adorable geeky song that you will ever hear. The track will have you dancing around your room, brush-microphone in hand. This can be the national anthem of geeks everywhere, and it will make them stand up and be proud. This is the perfect end to the record, which I wish would never end.
Stephan Nance is destined to go far with a Trouble Piece of Fruit, as it is a brilliant introduction to this astounding singer and songwriter. Keep an ear out for Stephan Nance. It will be a name that will be making waves very soon, if it hasn’t already by the time that you read this. I urge you to check out this record, as it will change everything that you know about modern music; and that’s a good thing.
R.I.Y.L. : Jukebox the Ghost, The Decemberists
Listen: Stephan Nance Bandcamp