"Midnight" by Shannon StevensonReview
Coventry singer-songwriter Shannon Stevenson has decided to take the positive road of uplifting us with her end of the year release "Midnight" and I for one thank her for it.
As one might expect, being in denial over recent experiences isn't on the agenda: Shannon faces up to them (I'm sure this will win her the respect she deserves & is naturally the hallmark of an emotionally honest writer) and walks us through her own internal processes of dealing with them, but crucially also walks us through to the other side & offers us hope for what is to come. However, another sign which wins my respect is her emotional maturity in signalling that her own future includes a strong element of taking personal control & responsibility for shaping it. There is no sign of waiting on some outside agency for assistance. What we get therefore is a complex depiction of her thoughts (which I'm sure is pretty much what we all actually are going through: anyone who has perfect clarity of vision currently must surely be lucky or a bit deluded) but shot through with optimism. None of us are quite sure what's going to happen nor when, but Shannon is looking forward positively & is darned sure that she'll make it work rather than lying back passively. (I am reminded to some extent in these respects of another Coventry artist, Izzie Derry, whose "look back at the year" single of last year "In A Year" showed similar self reflections though of course thankfully without the pandemic to take account of).
Another aspect of "Midnight" is a theme I (too?) often return in my reviews & that's the value of keeping things simple. This certainly I believe concentrates attention not only on the words (which are central to this song) and the quality of the voice (a great strength of this artist) but illustrates a confidence in her own performance & writing without the need to obscure weaknesses with over arrangement nor over production. Again, I am reminded a little of another local musician in this regard, Ollie Bond, and like Ollie, Shannon subtly crafts "Midnight" with little touches in the arrangement like swelling instrumentation, added harmonies & shifts in dynamics, to keep our attention & make the track both interesting for its entire length & one we like to return to repeatedly to spot new nuances. It's a beautiful melody led by confident piano playing & needs no over ornamentation.
As Shannon says: "I hope the New Year sets us free". May she be proved right. The fireworks which illustrate "Midnight" on its cover reinforce the sense of hope & she makes it abundantly clear that at least part of the solution lies within our own hands, powers & responsibilities.