Release Date: April 7, 2023
Genre: Indie Pop, Jazz-pop
Label: Island Records The Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based jazz-pop singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Stacey Ryan is a talented vocalist, musician, and performer that's in the same vein as Tori Kelly, Ariana Grande, Jojo, Gayle, and Leah Kate because of her sultry laid back, but immensely powerful vocals and her social media virality, which was especially seen with her first couple singles. Stacey had a colossal year in 2022 with her two back-to-back mega-smash hits, "Don't Text Me When You're Drunk" (a duet with hip-hop artist Zal1k) and "Fall In Love Alone" -both of which have accumulated over 760 million global streams combined. That resulted in a wave of success that landed her a tour with soul-pop sibling duo Lawerence and spots on a handful of festivals such as BST Hyde Park and Montreal International Jazz Festival. Now, fast forward to the present, the self-described "queen of jazztok" has readied her debut EP, I Don't Know What Love Is, via Island Records. Stacey's debut EP was produced by James G. Morales, Matt Morales, and Dave Rodriguez -known collectively as THE ELEV3N.
The eighteen-minute-long I Don't Know What Love Is begins with the wobbly bass-riddled "Deep End." The song has a very light pop production featuring light percussion with unorthodox rhythm and chord arrangements. It juxtaposes the song's flirty lyrics and Stacey's sultry singing voice. Following is the EP's biggest single, "Fall In Love Alone." A song of her's that blew up early last year on TikTok. "Fall In Love Alone" is a track that touches on the topic of loving in love with someone, but the other person has some kind of trouble with commitment. Sonically, Stacey puts her vocals on display for all with powerful vocals and vocal runs. The latest single, "Bad For Me," comes up third on the project and features a wicked horn section in the background of the song. Stacey once again belts like her life depends on it on the track.
On the second half of I Don't Know What Love Is, Stacey begins track four by slowing it down with the wholehearted number, "The Idea." Which hears Stacey singing if she's actually in love with the person she's singing about or if she's just in love with the idea of ending up with them. "Over Tonight" incorporates some R&B elements into Stacey's well-developed jazz-pop combination. The track conveys the anecdote of a friends-with-benefits relationship taking a turn for the worst; when one party inevitably starts to develop feelings for the other -a track that may relate to many listeners. I Don't Know What Love Is closes out with the most stripped-down track on the entire EP titled "Somebody Good." The tune is just Stacey on piano, singing, and backed by finger snaps and harmonized backing vocals. On "Somebody Good," Stacey details everything about herself that makes her a good person and how she wants to find these same traits in a potential significant other. The themes of the EP's six tracks come back around and form the EPs title of I Don't Know What Love Is well. The name of the EP was brainstormed, but Stacey's friend when the two were throwing names around. After some reflection on some of these titles, Stacey came back to I Don't Know What Love Is and how it fits perfectly with the song's themes and lyrics, as there isn't one single "typical" love on the project. Additionally, at the end of writing a large number of twenty-one songs for the debut, she's still discovering and navigating love. Overall, I Don't Know What Love Is is a strong and unique debut from Stacey. It melds elements of jazz, pop, and R&B together flawlessly. Creating her own distinct sound and niche in the pop scene, the six tracks feel and sound similar to a few of the tracks on Ariana Grande's debut album, Yours Truly (2013). Something back in 2013 was rarely heard and seen as unique. It still hasn't been replicated at all since that particular album -until now. Unquestionably, this debut from Stacey Ryan is not a copy of anything in the past but an ode to her upbringing of influences. Stacey Ryan is rising in popularity as the days go by. 2022 was just the start of a very promising career. 2023 will skyrocket her to new heights, and this EP is just the start. You can catch Stacey Ryan on tour right now in the United States until April 12th as direct support for Jake Wesley Rogers, and from April 28 through May 9, Stacey will tour the EU/UK with Joshua Bassett. Following that, Stacey has a slew of international festival appearances at the likes of The Great Escape Festival, Java Jazz, and Montreux Jazz Festival. Lastly, you can pre-save I Don't Know What Love Is here.
Check out our interview with Stacey Ryan where she discusses the EP in more detail here.
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