Before Lennon Stella hit her twenties, she had already starred as a core character on the hit television drama Nashville, formed one half of YouTube music sensation Lennon & Maisy, and collaborated with pop music heavyweights like the Jonas Brothers, Liam Payne, and The Chainsmokers. Despite squeezing a lifetime of career achievements into her adolescence, Stella shows no signs of slowing down. Her 2018 EP, Love, me, garnered hundreds of millions of plays and sparked industry-wide anticipation for her first full-length studio debut, which was released early last year.
Though she originally hails from Oshawa, Ontario, Stella has strong ties to Nashville. She and her family relocated to Music City in 2009. Not long after, Stella and her younger sister, Maisy, posted a cover of Robyn & Erato’s “Call Your Girlfriend” to YouTube and it went viral overnight. A few months later, the girls began appearing on ABC’s Nashville as Maddie and Daphne Conrad, respectively, and continued their roles throughout the show’s six seasons. The pair continued posting song covers to their highly successful YouTube Channel, Lennon & Maisy, and developed a following of over 700,000 subscribers. Despite the sisters’ success, Stella eventually decided to break out on her own towards the end of the 2010s.
Her debut album, Three. Two. One., is a thirteen-track exploration of experiences universal to young women—heartbreak, loneliness, love, mental health struggles—and those unique to Stella: growing up too quickly and life in the limelight. Meandering and mellow, this album gives listeners room to fully inhabit Stella’s cavernous sonic space. Even upbeat tracks, like lead single “Kissing Other People” and warped-grunge-meets-club-pop “Bend Over Backwards” have an airy aloofness that make them mesh well with the rest of the album’s scorpionic vibe.
Despite being an up-and-coming pop star, Stella’s songs do not seek to sugar-coat life. Slow-burning ballad “Older Than I Am” details the hardships that come with being wise beyond one’s years. Lines like “Why am I always the one making decisions? / How do I handle the pressure? / I do my best to fake it / But honestly I hate it” may serve as an allusion to Stella’s personal experience with rising to stardom at such a young age, and the ensuing adult pressures this situation likely fostered. Equally heavy and nearly eight minutes long, “Weakness (Huey Lewis)” features Stella’s sister, Maisy, and mourns the sisters’ loss of innocence amidst the troubling state of the world.
However, Stella makes room for sweetness and positivity, too. “Golf on TV,” is a love song that splices together vulnerable confessions and tongue-in-cheek lines about not understanding those who play the field, nor those who enjoy watching golf on television. “Pretty Boy” is a sticky, pleading daydream about wanting to know what lies beneath the surface of the song’s titular heartthrob.
The juxtaposition between Stella’s lyrical intimacy and detached vocals alone creates a captivating chemistry, but when paired with her subtle yet pulsing beats, the final result is a cool and collected set of tracks that will fit the mood at both the height of a house party and the lonely 2 A.M. Uber ride home. Glittery and black, neon-tinged and dark, the album is a personal encapsulation of the universal mood of today’s youth. With a series of upcoming festival performances, Stella is ready to get on the road and begin performing the album she released a few weeks into the global lockdown. Come see her bring her music to life at Roots N Blues Festival in Columbia, Missouri on Friday, September 24th. Purchase passes here: https://rootsnbluesfestival.com/tickets/.