Laura Stevenson – The Big Freeze (Album Review)

Laura Stevenson has been on a path of transparency and creating a living breathing record of her overcoming and confronting issues. With her fifth studio album “The Big Freeze” Stevenson creates a chapter of growth, exploration and the struggles of facing demons when everything is going well (getting married and buying a home). Stevenson has found a balance with her more folk tracks typically just her singing and playing guitar, to lengthy rock infused tracks, she goes more the intimate sounding route with “The Big Breeze” enhancing the personal notes and highlighting her vocals, especially layering them throughout the record giving a bigger sound while perfectly keeping the intimate feel. With minimal drums and electronic instruments, Stevenson rather brings in more the orchestral sounds from a french horn and cello on the opening track “Lay Back, Arms Out” and “Low Slow”. The album comes from the heart, as does everything Laura Stevenson does, but this comes from a place inside Stevenson that is coming full circle. The record, sounding as professional as anything else out there, was recorded in her childhood home and creating an emotional response that is evident on the record.

Stevenson allows vulnerably to be another instrument that is a focal point on the record. Not just the content, which is heart wrenching and relatable, but the way Stevenson has allowed her voice to carry from track to track, is something extremely special. Her voice is a combination of indie rock and classical opera, she carries notes with massive range and allowing her guitar playing to only heighten it. “Value Inn” and “Living Room, NY” are the second and third tracks respectfully and somehow feel like one long song in the best of ways. The idea of being nice carries throughout “Value Inn”, as if a reminder to herself when she then sings lines like “And in a Value Inn I dig at my skin, With a travel kit in the fluorescence”. While feeling distance from herself, “Living Room, NY” speaks to the idea of feeling distant from your partner. The opening lines, “I want to feel you restless, I want to wake up from it, I want to see you stare at ceilings until you fall back to sleep” are remembering those little aspects of a partner that you find endearing, and when they aren’t around you focus on them. And the heaviest and most relatable line “Will we fall straight into routine / Or we’ll be strangers for a week, stir-crazy, lazy until I leave again,” keeps ringing in your ears far after the track ends.

“The Big Freeze” is an intimate and vulnerable record through and through. The minimal utilization of electric instruments is a great way of making Stevenson’s voice a focal point. The album seems to rush by clocking in at thirty four minutes, but carries a heavy weight of emotion and realization. When the record starts over it feels as if you have walked out of a therapy appointment. While being completely vulnerable, Stevenson allows others to relate to heavy topics and potentially helping them in the way she’s been able to help herself.