Ethan Stephenson: Still… A Deeper Valley

Ethan Stephenson: Still… A Deeper Valley
Ethan Stephenson: Still… A Deeper Valley

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Ethan Stephenson: Still… A Deeper Valley
Leah Williams

Leah Williams
Nightlife

It seems like every week you can find SIU grad student and Americana singer/songwriter Ethan Stephenson playing in Southern Illinois. On Monday, Aug. 28, he releases his newest album Still … A Deeper Valley at Molly’s Pint in Murphysboro.
The CD release party takes place about 6:30 p.m. at the brewery.
Still… A Deeper Valley is an Americana collection of mellow tunes and pensive lyrics Stephenson has cultivated in the local musician’s musical journey throughout the past several years.
The album, recorded at Mole Hole Studios, features a carousel of local talent backing up Stephenson at every bend.
Gray Whaley plays bass and acoustic guitar, Nate Graham on standup bass, Ray Marin played dobro, Tim Fischer was on drums, Byron Farrar played cello, Max Martini played mandolin and Robert was on the electric guitar.
A relative newcomer to the Southern Illinois music scene, Stephenson hails originally from Petersburg, which is about 20 minutes south of Springfield. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastern University in 2013 before completing a master’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado in 2015. Now, he’s working on a PhD in SIU’s English Department.
Stephenson tells the Nightlife the material on this latest album present a time of figurative and literal transition in his life.
“I had all of these songs,” Stephenson said. “I wrote some of them when I was an undergraduate and then others when I started working on my PhD. I made two big moves in that time period and in the process of making this album.”
Stephenson’s start in Carbondale’s and Southern Illinois’s music scene started with standing alongside some of the area’s more well-known musicians. He has joined the stage with Graham and Whaley and opening for Honey and Tar and the Jenny Johnson Band.
Mastered by Alex Kirt and mixed and recorded by Jim Forrester, Still… A Deeper Valley exceeded his initial expectations, Stephenson said.
“I really liked it,” he said. “Jim was able to really layer music, and I was really lucky to get to work with everyone.”
Stephenson said he is hopeful that when others hear his music they are able to connect with an extension and musical representation of himself.
Much of Stephenson’s style stems from the several of the most classic singer/songwriter traditions that have ever graced the stage. Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt and big factors, also, Nanci Griffith, Tom Russell, Wilco and Jason Isbell are included in his style.
Stephenson said he is drawn to music styles that allows expression, such as making political comments or social causes and criticisms. Getting to tell a story with music is a personal experience to share, and he adds that he hopes the audience will get to know who he is with this record.
“I’m looking forward to everybody getting to hear it,” he said. “I really hope they can get a sense of who I am when they listen to this album.”
For more information, check out Stephenson on Facebook. You can also find past performances from when the Ethan Stephenson Band played the Live Brews Brothers Bloc Party in Murphysboro last May on YouTube.