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Liner Notes

Stephanie Lambring – New Album Autonomy Out Today

stephanie_lambring_2_by_brandi_potter.jpg
Brandi Potter
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Stephanie Lambring

Nashville songwriter Stephanie Lambring has been dropping single and video hints this year, into the subjects and sounds on her new album, Autonomy which is out today. Christianity, sexuality, domestic violence, body image, and suicide all sound like really heavy subjects but the stories are told from the perspective of someone coming to terms with their feelings on these issues. It’s a deeply personal and beautifully arranged album and the accompanying videos have really helped convey the messages and empathy in these songs. 

 AnaLee: Congratulations on releasing Autonomy today, Stephanie. It’s almost a self-titled album in that it seems like you are really telling your truth and sharing some deeply personal feelings about some pretty intense issues. Tell us about writing songs for others and ultimately walking away from your publishing deal to reflect and find that truth you wanted to write.

Stephanie: Thank you! It’s definitely an intense album. Publishing deals are interesting. You get signed because someone likes how you write for yourself, and then once you’re in, the focus shifts to writing for other people. It’s not always conscious––most of the time you’re just trying to write a good song. I did meet a dozen or so writers who I wrote great songs with, and that was super fulfilling. But the busier my calendar got with co-writing appointments, the less energy I had to write for myself. And the further I got away from writing for myself, the more disheartened I became. On top of that, I yearned to lean into heavy subject matter, which didn’t exactly lend itself to the Music Row formula. I knew that I needed to step away if I wanted to have a chance at writing authentically again.

AnaLee: I first played Mr. Wonderful last year when you opened up the Local Brew Live for Elise Davis and I have to thank Elise for turning me on to your music, it’s what I love about this town and what I miss about being out there this year. Elise makes a cameo appearance in the video for Joy of Jesus, which we’ll get to next, but first, talk a little about Mr. Wonderful and the lyric video; directed by Iris Dutour, it was named the Best Music Video at the 2020 Summer in the South Film Festival.

Stephanie: I love Elise! She’s the best. So, Mr. Wonderful was mostly inspired by a controlling relationship I was in years ago. It started out like a fairytale––the guy was smart, funny, romantic, good-looking––all the things. I was smitten. Pretty quickly though, the red flags started sneaking in. We committed immediately, and he more or less moved in with me. He had to be with me constantly. I’m someone who needs a lot of space, so this was a lot for me. He also relentlessly pressured me to get engaged. To the world, he looked like Mr. Nice Guy, and honestly, sometimes he looked like that to me, too. I liked the illusion of us. The reality, however, was a complete mind-warp. For this song I really wanted to capture the dance between awareness and denial that so many experience in relationships like this.
 

I love the video for Mr. Wonderful so much! I found Iris through a mutual friend––I was blown away when she sent me some of Iris’ work. I shot her a couple examples of videos I liked and trusted her to do her thing. The day she sent it to me, I cried. She so artfully captured the dynamic of an abusive relationship. For this song and topic, a lyric video felt right, and Iris exceeded my expectations in every possible way. It’s more than a lyric video. 
 

We were thrilled to be at Summer in the South Film Festival when it won Best Music Video. It’s also a semi-finalist selection in the Southeastern International Film Festival next weekend! It’s so cool to see Iris recognized for her work.

AnaLee:

Joy of Jesus. What a powerful video to tell this song’s story. In the comments for this video on your YouTube channel, one person said the video made them sad and had a different opinion than what the song portrays; it was so refreshing to see you have such a civil and productive conversation publicly with that person. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the song and the video and what it means to hear from people touched by your work, whether they agree or not with the message?

Stephanie: Thank you! The thing is, I don’t have all the answers. Every day I become more of a questioner than an answerer. All I can do is tell an authentic story and be open to the conversation that follows. I want to challenge myself to really hear someone instead of seeking the self-righteousness that comes with feeling “right.” I’m sure that’ll be a lifelong challenge.


 

I had the concept for the song years ago when I started letting myself question the faith I’d followed my whole life. I felt compelled to dig into the hypocrisy that sometimes creeps into the church––and all of us, really. When Elise Davis shared her story about being trolled on Twitter during brunch a few years ago, I knew immediately that was the first verse. I also knew I wanted to lean into the pain the church has caused because of one’s sexuality. The verses are the stories, and the chorus asks a simple question.
 

I was terrified to release this song––I think that’s how you know you should probably put something out there. It definitely yields a strong reaction. I’ve been moved by the affirming messages I’ve gotten about this song, and I’ve chewed on the perspectives of those who are triggered by it. Either way, if someone agrees or doesn’t agree with the message, they’ve been affected enough by it to think about it. And so in response, I think about it even more. Isn’t that the purpose of art? 

Stephanie Lambring, “Mr. Wonderful” 

https://youtu.be/zYbGc","_id":"0000017a-3a37-d913-abfe-bf77483c0000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://youtu.be/zYbGc-qyzHM">https://youtu.be/zYbGc","_id":"0000017a-3a37-d913-abfe-bf77483c0000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://youtu.be/zYbGc-qyzHM   

Stephanie Lambring, “Joy of Jesus” 

 https://youtu.be/KnSXfrHmStc","_id":"0000017a-3a37-d913-abfe-bf77483c0002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://youtu.be/KnSXfrHmStc">https://youtu.be/KnSXfrHmStc","_id":"0000017a-3a37-d913-abfe-bf77483c0002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://youtu.be/KnSXfrHmStc   

Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org