Aaron Stephens

Focus

Texas Platters

Austin crooner Aaron Stephens matures into an R&B sound on second full-length Focus. The nine-track keeper opens with "Walkin,'" whose drifting acoustic licks are soon joined by irresistible sax dubs and Stephens' smooth voice, which time and age have added a little more gravel to. Contrary to its title, the LP samples several distinct styles, running from classic soul on the aforementioned standout to Nineties Maxwell-circa-Love-Jones vibes in "More Than Fine," and back to John Mayer pop with "Always Hiding," one after another. Stephens executes all these styles well, gliding through genres and emotions anchored by steady, funky drums. The 27-year-old is at his best when his plaintive, reaching voice soars on "When I Don't Need You" in a rare modern-day glimpse into the James Carr school of guitar and heartbreak. Like Stephens' tattoo, being "Soulful" is a vulnerability that bares the soul so it can touch yours.

***

The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Aaron Stephens
Unplugged: Lowering the Volume of the Live Music Capital
Unplugged: Lowering the Volume of the Live Music Capital
Ley Line, Aaron Stephens, Team Goodtimes, Uncle Pie Hole, and more grounded sounds

Isabella Castro-Cota, May 18, 2018

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Clara Wang
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Bowie and Elvis tributes, Kelly Willis, Kool & the Gang, Unsane, and more live local shows

Jan. 7, 2022

What We're Listening to Right Now
What We're Listening to Right Now
Ayo Tamz, Blushing, Whookilledkenny, Chief Cleopatra, and more have us dialed in

Dec. 17, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Aaron Stephens

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle