"It's been such a long time coming with really wanting to make an album." Not only is that the words of 20-year old pop sensation, Lennon Stella, but also the relayed sentiment from the mouths of her slowly-cooked fanbase over the years. The wait for a debut solo studio album from Lennon Stella is over, in Three. Two. One.
When Lennon Stella was only 10 years old, she and her musical family picked up and moved to Nashville in pursuit of her parents' music career opportunities. Ever since 2012, this Canadian-singer around the age of 13 became known for her acting role portraying Maddie Conrad in the musical-drama television series, Nashville. Both Stella and her sister, Maisy Stella, were a part of the show – garnering fans season after season. However, they began creating their own schtick as an entertaining internet duo via their social media. To give you an idea, their YouTube channel now has over 760,000 subscribers.
Then, 2018 came along and Stella has bravely decided to pursue a solo career. After signing a deal with RECORDS/Columbia Records, her inaugural debut project, Love, me, demanded attention right from the start. This 5-song EP was a taste of what the promising pop star was capable of, as it peaked on Billboard Canada at 60. As all this progressed, she also witnessed an increase in fanbase as her success stirred away from her persona as Maddie Conrad Nashville, and onto Lennon Stella the singer.
She quickly began teasing the growing new fanbase with a few single releases and snippets of a full-length album on her socials. In an interview with EARMILK, she shared, "Having been on a television show since my late childhood, basically from like 12 to 18, that kind of puts you in the spotlight and get people talking about an album for so long," she continued. "It felt like such a long time preparing." Then, fans were no longer left wondering if or when the debut album would arrive, as Stella continued her masterful play of social media to share:
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well well well, the day has fuckin come IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT. I get to say out loud when this album will be set free. “Three. Two. One” out APRIL 24TH!!!!!! APRIL!!!!! TWENTY!!!! FOURTH!!!!! thank you guys for hanging on and staying so consistently engaged and loving. I have really never been so excited about anything, or so proud of anything. available for pre order now <3 <3 <3
Many artists can feel like they pour their entire life in their first body of work. For Stella, she has a mixture of both her life's story and themes, but also music that engages with the more recent times."It felt like such a long time preparing for it. A lot of the topics speak on the last couple of years of her life, but also there are a couple of songs that are reflective of her childhood and who she is as an entire being," said Stella.
The process of making the debut album essentially began falling into place about two years ago when she and a camp of producers and writers flew to Cabo, Mexico. They were there for 11 days and that's where she really sat down and penned the majority of Three. Two. One.
The album opens with the Malay-produced number, "Much Too Much". The tone-setting intro full of synth-heavy instrumentals paired with a head-nodding dance beat. The tempo of the entire album does not waver too far away from its start. "Much Too Much" is followed then by the album's lead single "Kissing Other People". Norwegian singer-songwriter, Caroline Ailin, co-wrote this dance-worthy song alongside Stella. This single establishes a reoccurring sentiment that offers insight into the real-life mentality of the singer. The catchy hook masks the intimacy of the lyrics being shared; "Kissing other people. Oh yeah, that's how I know that your love is gone. That's how I know I'm really moving on. 'Cause I don't feel guilty kissing other people". The Captain Cuts-produced single charted at #60 position on Canada's Hot 100 and already has 900,000+ views on Youtube.
Thirteen (the same number of tracks) was the total on her debut album because it's her "lucky number". Stella was born on Friday the 13th and coincidentally, her sister Maisy was also born on the 13th. "I really had such a hard time narrowing it down to that because I feel like there are so many songs that have had a life for so long now through literally Instagram clips or hearing them live," she shared. "But I think it was important to have some consistency, a story, an evolution. There were songs that I loved so much, but I didn't really feel like it fit as part of the evolution. So, that's why those weren't included, but they will all come out at some point."
The final record came out on Friday, but four singles have already been released to the public. One of which was co-written by Grammy Award-winning producer and singer, Finneas. The track "Jealous" cleverly talks about the post-breakup moments when one person believes that the other is using their efforts to show their ex up. "He's so amazing. I love him so much," Stella shares about working with the brilliant Billie Eilish producer and brother. "He is so musical and so creative. He's such a freak talent. I went in for a session at his place, (and) I hadn't met him before that."
Another album standout is "Bend Over Backwards", a dance-pop groove that sits a little over halfway through the LP. Another Malay-produced tune is musically inspired by the electro-pop group MGMT. Stella said "That is the exact inspiration. While writing this one, we were wanting some MGMT vibes. My sister and I, we did a cover of "Kids". We did that on tour, and that just became a song that I really just loved so much."
They wanted to mimic that euphoric and festival feeling and used MGMT to influence the direction with "Bend Over Backwards".
Towards the end of the album, we get a lengthier two-in-one song titled "Weakness (Huey Lewis)". The song touches upon Stella's relationship with her younger sister Maisy. "(She) really is the one thing that unravels all (my) emotions and everything that I'm burying sometimes," she shares. "Once she hit 15, we just were at the same level, became best friends, and we talk about everything. So, this song's very much a mutual thing. When all this stuff with the family (happened), very personal things that life just does to you, she was going through it also. And I was the same thing for her. That's why I really wanted her to sing this." Maisy, being essentially a life-long collaborator with Stella, sings the second verse & chorus, symbolizing that they as sisters can be each others' weaknesses.
Lennon Stella's, Three. Two. One. is a formal introduction to a blooming high-profile artist. They were able to create both a racy dance-pop record and an open intimate, introspective letter to the world.
Coronavirus has done some damage to the live experience of the music industry. We know that there'll be a couple more videos, and maybe some virtual concerts to come in the following weeks. However, in the midst of all the music industry changes, she and her team are likely going to move her headline tour sometime next year as it is for postponed for now.
The important thing is that now, the fans have alas received Stella's full leg forward as she turns over a new leaf. The LP is now available on all streaming platforms.