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Song You Need to Know: Stephanie Cherote, ‘Faces’

Stephanie Cherote is rising fast through the ranks of Aussie music, and as she gears up to release her debut album in April, she’s given fans a taste of what to expect.

Asha Bo*

As acclaimed singer/songwriter Stephanie Cherote gears up to release her debut album, she’s continued an undeniable hot streak, previewing new single “Faces” ahead of its official release this week.

Having kicked off her musical journey as a young artist by listening to her mother’s Hank Williams collection, Cherote soon found herself on an enviable musical path, with her inclination towards ’60s folk soon giving way to a self-recorded five-track EP.

Though released without any grand plans, Cherote entered the EP into a national songwriting competition, soon winning awards for Australian Singer-Songwriter of the Year and Unsigned Artist of the Year, and receiving an artist mentorship with Island Records, Australia.

Just last month, Cherote signed a deal with Native Tongue Music Publishing as she prepares to release her debut album, Some Holy Longing, on April 1st. With big things ahead, Cherote has now unveiled a taster of this forthcoming record, sharing “Faces” today.

A sparse and spacious acoustic number, “Faces” allows Cherote’s talent to stand tall, with her Leonard Cohen-esque songwriting being accompanied by ambient swells, and a vocal delivery that feels like it speaks from a place of heartbreak and resilience. Paired by a music video directed by Lilli Waters, it’s a perfect one-two punch that brings you in in before emotionally leaving the listener feeling wholly emotionally devastated.

“‘Faces’ was written when I painfully weighed in with myself to see how I’d operated in a relationship that had crumbled,” Cherote explains of the track. “I didn’t want the relationship to continue but I was confronted by the truth that I never really showed up. I had been juggling faces and holding back so much of myself whilst wanting to be seen- then I ran before my resentment and exhaustion could be seen.

“I was afraid of those parts of me. In turn, when I moved away, I was living in a house that felt disturbing in some way- it seemed to reflect my restlessness and my guilt. I had reoccurring dreams about this person I’d left and I felt a lingering sorrow. He wasn’t there of course but it felt like he was constantly glaring at me, demanding something, need to know something.

“Writing the song was a cathartic process,” she adds. “I felt accountable for my misgivings and I finally spoke the silence that I thought was protecting me.”

Indeed, it’s a truly powerful song, and one that looks set to perfectly encapsulate Stephanie Cherote’s artistry when it formally arrives on her debut album in early April.

Having started writing the record while living in New York, Cherote explains that the album slowly began to present itself, with songwriting continuing over time spent travelling the Northern Hemisphere, and ultimately being finalised while back in a remote cabin in Northern NSW.

“The songs developed very slowly – bits of poetry and lyrical couplets, chord progressions on the guitar, and vocal melodies generally emerged as I was playing,” she explains. “The context of an album didn’t become visible until about four songs in when I started writing string arrangements for each song. The sonic world started to form and it was clear from that point that I wanted to have acoustic guitar and vocals, with the backdrop of lush string arrangements and some percussion.”

“I travelled widely while I was living in the Northern Hemisphere, piecing the album together like a nomad collecting moments that would amount to something I could speak of,” she adds. “When you let your longing lead the way, life feels adventurous. I should note that my laptop and guitar were my accomplices in the madness.

“My desire to ‘go home’ brought me back to Australia a few years later where I finished writing the songs in a remote cabin in Northern NSW. I realised that the trance-like state of looking for home wasn’t about being back on homeland, that’s how the theme for the album came full-circle; ‘Some Holy Longing”’. That deep and sometimes devastating longing I had, to find somewhere or someone that felt like home was just an aching to be at peace, or, at home within myself.”

Having crowdfunded the release of her upcoming record, Stephanie Cherote is undeniably in a perfect position to cement herself as one of the most powerful artists in Australia in years. Though it’s impossible to say where we’ll see her in 12 months time, with talent like this, the only option is going straight to the top.

Stephanie Cherote’s “Faces” is released on Wednesday, February 2nd, while debut album, Some Holy Longing, will be released on April 1st.