Stephen Skinn first picked up a guitar at the age of 11, taking lessons from a local tutor. He then mastered the basic chords, eventually putting them together and adding melodies. He started playing his songs to his mother and brother, before further developing his skills and coming up with the song “Believe In”, which Stephen regards as the turning point in his writing. It was also the first song that he performed live at Corran Halls in September 2012. Stephen eventually went into the recording studio during 2015 after having written a decent set of songs. This experience resulted in him recording his debut album, “Living Off Dreams” which was released in September of 2017.
Stephen Skinn seems to possess a vocal timbre that seems to exist almost solely within his genre, becoming a prerequisite of sorts for those looking to play this very specific form of washed out alternative Americana and sharply focused Brit alt-rock.
While shimmering strummed guitars certainly play a role in the sound, there’s a certain grain in Stephen’s voice, an affectation that functions as a sort of evolutionary trait inherited by those fated to front indie rock soundscapes.
Stephen Skinn succeeds in meeting the requisite criteria of his most direct influences and has crafted an album sure to appeal to those enamored by the aforementioned sounds. It’s a bold, declarative statement that finds the artist brimming with deserved confidence and assurance.
“Living Off Dreams” finds Stephen moving in a number of stylistic directions that, coupled with his full, assured organic sound, lends a weightiness to the album that helps imbue it with greater resonance.
From when the album opens with the upbeat “Stranger”, it incorporates a host of acoustic and electric instruments, all lovingly swathed in a shimmering sheen of reverb; it’s the sound of an artist expanding his horizons.
From a narrative standpoint, the album functions as a scrapbook, one that embodies a journey through life’s experiences in search of a dream and finding trials, tribulations and joys along the way. Characters spring to life everywhere, from “Cheater’s Heart” to “A Thousand Skies” and “Up In The Sky”.
In between, the back-to-back standouts “Believe In”, “Eternity” and “White and Black”, beg for broader commercial appeal with their insistent beats and propulsive melodies. Throughout these songs, there’s a greater accessibility, a concentrated effort at broader stylistic variance and more focus on powerful guitars and stronger melodic hooks.
By crafting these songs built around snatches of nostalgic melodies and established aesthetics, Stephen Skinn is better able to reach an existing audience, comforting them into a familiar framework.
Stephen Skinn ensures that he makes music, which matches his aesthetic: airy, welcoming, story-telling indie alt-rock, which just happens to be well-constructed and recorded. Stephen capitalizes on his strengths here, maintaining melodic strength and songwriting craft while introducing noticeable elements of vulnerability.
And that should only enhance the potential already evident from Stephen Skinn vision. Physical copies of the album, “Living Off Dreams” are available to buy from my website (www.stephenskinn.co.uk).