Steph Stewart & The Boyfriends. Nobody’s Darlin’.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Steph Stewart has no problem wearing her roots on her sleeve. Growing up around the riches of Appalachian folk music and old country vinyl, her new album promenades effortlessly through this terrain, dipping a foot into dark old-time fiddle tunes as happily as hard-hit honky-tonk. It’s all done with a lovely acoustic flair and no small amount of confidence, but the band doesn’t polish of the rough edges of the music, so it all sounds vibrantly alive. Stewart worked with Chapel Hill producer Jeff Crawford, who’s well-tapped into the incredibly vibrant folk world of the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill area. With folks like Mandolin Orange, Hiss Golden Messenger, Sylvan Esso, and Alice Gerrard in the surrounding hills, this part of North Carolina is looking like ground zero for new American roots music.