Soul pop

Stephanie Rodd: “Stronger Than Ever”

For us uncultured Americans, we tend to invent a caricature when we hear about a “French songstress”. Yes, we let our assumptions automatically paint a picture of a smoky nightclub against a traumatic war torn backdrop, a slender figure in haute couture wardrobe, cigarette in one hand, microphone in the other, and lyrics toutes en français. The reality, of course, is much more of a mixed bag; I mean c’mon…we’re talking about a massive nation with a century-plus of cross cultural influences here.

Enter: Stephanie Rodd. The Parisian-Londoner up-and-comer pardons herself past the stereotypical chanson midcentury chic of Edith Piaf or Juliette Gréco and instead slides towards the more contemporary energy of acts like Adele, Estelle, and the late Amy Winehouse. Based on what little we’ve heard so far, there’s no doubt that Rodd’s time in England has helped her find the right R&B-soul-pop soundscapes for her singing style that’s reminiscent of Jorja Smith.

And in 2024, as part of a rapid trajectory, Stephanie Rodd’s shooting for the moon with the release of her debut EP next month. Following her mid-February introduction “Worth It”, Rodd’s sophomore single “Stronger Than Ever” finds Stephanie sounding…well…just like the song title. It’s an intriguing, minimalist arrangement filled with passionate chord pads, seductive synth squeaks, carnal guitar, trap-type drums, and soul-warming subs – all anchoring a bold vocal mix of triplet rhythms and unconventional melodies.

Tobias Lund: “Let Me Know” (feat. Phono Magic)

Everyone’s got their favorite blue-eyed soul artists. And sure, it’s technically a derogatory term, but if you’re after some super blue-eyed soul…like so blue-eyed it’s Scandinavian, then look no further than Austin’s Tobias Lund.

This is the third time we’ve talked up Tobias, and long story short, the keyboardist-singer’s already shown a ton of talent across the soul-pop spectrum. So after a strong sequence of sultry standalone solo and collaborative singles, imagine our delight upon hearing about Tobias Lund’s debut EP, Leap of Faith, out next Thursday.

Lund plays a set Hole in the Wall 10PM that same evening with EP guests Camila Rivers and Phono Magic, plus The VYB Project alongside opener EddieAngel at 9PM and closer Chico Jones at 11PM. And just yesterday Lund lent us the album’s second lead single made in cooperation with Phono Magic, “Let Me Know”. We knew Tobias was smooth, but damn, this one just breathes baby-makin’ magic. Whichever way you lean, this erotic piece of modern R&B is an instant aphrodisiac for aural arousal.

Tobias Lund: “Hurts Just A Little”

This past Monday we premiered something from Norwegian producer-arranger-composer Morten Martens, and his project Les Imprimés. Well, not even a full week later, we’ve got another new Scandinavian tune for you. But unlike Martens, this Nordic songwriter lives right here within the Austin City Limits.

We’re referring to Tobias Lund, who moved here from Copenhagen last year. Sure, the migration was primarily in pursuit of a law degree, but once Lund acclimated to “the Live Music Capital of the World” culture, he quickly felt his artistry ascend to an even higher level. Like anyone with good tastes, Tobias Lund draws a lot from Stevie Wonder’s iconic style of jazz-soul, but you’ll instantly recognize the modern influence of pop-R&B innovators like Eloise and Mac Ayres.

Today, Tobias was kind enough to give us an early listen to his debut studio single, “Hurts Just A Little”, and boy are we glad he did. At a hair over three-and-a-half minutes, “Hurts Just A Little” kicks off with erotic key chords and Lund’s passionate pipes before graduating up to a brilliantly simple drum beat, staccato six-string rhythms, backup call-and-response harmonies, clever bass lines, a couple synth stabs for good measure. Once you’re past the lush choruses, falsetto flourishes, cool-as-hell guitar solo and rousing trumpet riffs, you’ll feel lovey dovey for days to come. All in all? It’s an outstanding first entry into Tobias Lund’s discography, and we frankly can NOT wait for more of this Dane’s dashing and jazzy soul-pop dalliances.