Album Review by Jen Emmert
One listen to Stephanie Mae’s highly anticipated EP Seven Seas, and you’ll feel like you’re riding the waves of your own love (even life) soundtrack. The Seattle-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist—while relatively novice in releasing substantial material—sounds as though she’s been rising through the industry for decades. She has already wowed her local scene by opening for known acts in the PNW such as Belle Game and Hey! Ocean, and is slowly impacting audiences across many seas—her rendition of The Civil War’s “Safe and Sound” was the song of choice for walking down the aisle at an Australian couple’s wedding. A previously released song, “Trust,” triggered a broken up couple to rekindle their romance, then eventually marry and have a son. With the release of Seven Seas, she’ll inevitably garner even more attention across the country and the world.
Seven Seas starts with “Too Late Now,” a soulful ballad that immediately lures and invites listeners in with a coo-like plea. She describes a former lover blatantly, but with profound honesty, all while admitting her own recognition of authentic love and longing for moving past the constant and irreversible pain. In this song, she repeats that it’s “too late now” and has no intention of turning back around. The song is an oceanic orchestration cascading from beginning to end, a swelling and surging symphony that summarizes the decision she’s made—despite all the pain and brokenness she’s experiencing—she will move on defiantly and demonstrably. Her lyrics cut to the bone and pierce the soul, lashing like a tentacle in murky waters, but the instrumental segments between verses and the break post-chorus before ending the song truly concretize and bind the heart-wrenching finality of not only moving on to bigger and better opportunities, but also more deserving individuals. This is the real MVP of the EP, one that should be blared through speakers of all shapes, sizes, and depths, and with the windows fully down.
On “New Shiny Thing,” Mae shifts gears slightly and takes on more of a poppy tone. She clearly has done some thorough reflecting on her relationship(s) and accepts the situation, simply wishing for platonic companionship. She still manages to shine a major spotlight on herself without even realizing it, though, as the catchy beat swoops listeners in, it makes the healing process seem more seamless than it traditionally is. Anything Mae sings, however, stems from a newfound hope.
“Million” has a playful, bouncy, nautical-esque vibe with bubbly undertones and yet more admission—she’s fallen in love “with the devil,” and while there’s a sense of fatigue from her fragile experience, she’s so headstrong and almost laughing at herself for doing what she has. There is certainly an extension of herself that can connect with those who have just experienced their first relationship and with those who have been countlessly heartbroken.
“Fuck Feelings” begins with an isolating and immersive drumbeat emphasizing the need and eventual disdain for misleading connection and infatuation. Sometimes feelings are overrated and should, as Mae implies, be numbed and disregarded.
“Edge of the Universe” is mellow, but uplifting. It is a poetic and compelling observation of Mae’s surroundings that feels not only like a sigh of relief after unleashing her pent-up frustrations and emotions, but also a kumbaya moment where she’s finally at peace with herself.
Lastly, “You Got Me” is a gloomy piano tune that shimmers and sparkles. It is a dizzying, love-drunk smackdown that frequently overwhelms us as we’re faced with someone who sweeps us off our feet and manages to make us feel like we’re the only ones who exist in a sea of bodies. That steady stream of butterflies in our stomach, flushed cheeks, and buzzing in our chests sensationalizes even the most autonomous, and Mae captures it here exquisitely.
Ultimately, Seven Seas sonically resembles the pace/sets the tone of a relationship that quite often begins too quickly and immediately crashes like a wave before it can fully ebb and flow—still worth all the high tides and beauty that blends with it.