Juanita Stein / Go Fever / Ben Ballinger at Hotel Vegas
Juanita Stein : (Sydney Australia)
"I feel like the two albums are different sides of the same coin," the Australian-born Stein explains. "If 'America' was the starting point of a journey - the musical equivalent of me spreading my wings, but also treading carefully, trying to figure myself out having come from such an intense period of camaraderie in the band - then this record is me starting to gain a bit more traction, feeling more confident in where I'm coming from and what it is I'm doing. Basically I'm on an ever evolving journey and this music is reflective of that."
The songs that ultimately emerged from those recording sessions for the new album form a self-portrait of where Stein is, the lessons she's learned, and the things that shaped her. 'Until The Lights Fade' is an album rich in wisdom, empathy and hard-fought experience, and nowhere is that more evident than on the stunning opening track 'All The Way', which puts Stein in the shoes of her late grandmother, who 'Caught a ship headed for your freedom/ Escaped a fate worse than any you'd believe in,' by fleeing war-torn Eastern Europe to seek refuge in Australia.
The idea of survival crops up again and again on 'Until The Lights Fade,' though it doesn't always take the shape of the stark life-or-death decisions faced by her grandmother. Tracks like the indie-pop infused 'Get Back To The City' and 'Easy Street' instead depict women who find themselves trapped in impossible situations trying to navigate a way out for them, while the rootsy 'Cool' serves as a personal mantra for deflecting the slings and arrows of modern life.
As the mother of two young daughters, Stein acknowledges that her songwriting has taken on a different perspective, informed by the burgeoning and movements that have inspired so many women across the globe to make their voices - and their stories - heard. "I feel more feminine strength in the world than I ever have and that is pretty powerful," she says. "And I definitely feel like some of the lyrical messages on this album are ones that I would want to impart to my daughters. Those songs are tales of women I know who wove an unfortunate path, and I know what it feels like to be trapped in a relationship, or in a situation, and how hard it can be be to emerge from. As a woman, it's important to find that strength, and use it when you need to."
Indeed, if there's a unifying theme running throughout 'Until The Lights Fade', it's one of personal agency and self-reliance, of learning from your mistakes and taking your destiny in your own hands.
Looking ahead, Stein will play select US tour dates in October and November with stops in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, Austin and Memphis. This summer, she'll make her way around the European festival circuit including Black Deer Festival (Turnbridge Wells, UK), TRNSMT (Glasgow, UK), Latitude Festival (Southwold, UK) and Green Man Festival (Brecon, UK) along with two opening dates for The Killers in Helsinki, Finland and Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.