Photo by Sherry Loeser

Pull It Together, by Shannon Stephens

On her third album, Shan­non Stephens reins in her chamber-folk experimentalism in favor of a bluesy little band that takes her songs to unexpected places. Her sound remains relatively subdued, yet it grooves and pops and even swaggers.

Stephens’s songcraft is best at its most complex when her melodies and chord progressions dart around a little. “Care of You” is a standout; it quickly locates a darker corner of Americana, throws it a few pleasing curve balls and wraps up in three minutes flat. The disappointing “Buddy Up to the Bully,” however, starts in a predictable blues-rock spot and simply stays put.

 

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