Brooke Stephenson’s new single opens with her passionately belting out the words Baby, cry to me, and as the band kicks in behind her, it’s clear that she’s a singing, songwriting tour de force. Entitled “Cry To Me,” the single is out on April 16, coming ahead of Stephenson’s debut EP, Backbone, which is due later in the year.
Perhaps best known as a contestant from season 17 of NBC’s The Voice, Stephenson adheres to a timeless American style, singing with a bluesy soulfulness akin to Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi. While she certainly augments her sound with hi-fidelity production, songs like “Cry To Me” show off Stephenson’s talent for seamlessly blending vintage things with the modern world.
“I wrote this song because I’ve always wanted to write a standard type of song,” she told American Songwriter. “One that pulls you in with its familiarity, like a warm blanket on a cold night. When I sat down to write it, this song kinda poured out of me in about 15 minutes, and I knew it would be one of my favorites on the album.”
Produced by John Spiker (Tenacious D, Beck, John Carpenter), the song itself is a heartfelt expression that reaches a soaring height. With a classic 6/8 beat, gospel background vocals, an organ pad and Stephenson’s powerhouse vocal performance, the authenticity of the tune perfectly serves the genuine emotions that inspired it.
“‘Cry To Me’ is about unconditional love,” Stephenson explained. “It’s about having someone whose shoulder you can cry on when you need it, who will be there through thick and thin. This song is for those who have been lucky enough to experience an unconditional type of love, and also for those who aspire to find it someday. This song becomes a retreat for those who harbor broken hearts, or at least share the room with someone in need of emotional sustenance.”
With that, Stephenson highlights one of the best aspects of “Cry To Me” and her work as a whole. While her music might not be revolutionizing the genre, Americana has always been far more interested in the emotional, storytelling aspect of a song anyways. In that regard, Stephenson is laying bare her heart and soul, and the result is pure, classic American, musical goodness.