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Juanita Stein releases a tour de force live EP

The former Waikiki and Howling Bells vocalist shines on the brilliant Locked Down – Live From Brighton Electric
Locked Down – Live From Brighton Electric is Juanita Stein’s first live release.

Locked Down – Live From Brighton Electric is Juanita Stein’s first live release.

By John Curley

This eight-song EP by the Australian singer-songwriter Juanita Stein, which is comprised of six live tunes and two studio tracks, came about due to the pandemic and lack of live shows because of it. The live tracks were recorded at Brighton Electric in Brighton, England, where Stein currently resides. Four of the live tracks were originally from her third solo album, Snapshot, which was released last year. The other two appeared on her 2017 solo debut, America. The two studio tracks were recorded during the sessions for the Snapshot album but did not make the final cut.

The band that Stein used for the live tracks on the EP, which is titled Locked Down – Live From Brighton Electric, included two of her former bandmates in Waikiki and Howling Bells, drummer Glenn Moule and her brother, guitarist Joel Stein. Also in the band were guitarist Paul Rawson, bassist Jimi Wheelwright, Ben Hillier on keyboards and Nick Pynn on strings.

The EP kicks off with a quite beautiful live version of the song “Snapshot,” which matches the trippy vibe of the studio version. It features a terrific vocal by Stein, which is perfectly underpinned by the band’s backing. The live take on “I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6” has a gorgeous lead vocal by Stein and a pleasant alt-country sound. It features some excellent guitar work, effective backing vocals and a soaring, majestic midsection. “The Mavericks” brings to mind Howling Bells’ best work. It has a perfect lead vocal by Stein and an outstanding performance by the band. The live element really gives the song “America” some extra punch. Pynn’s string work on the song is fantastic. The atmospheric, moody “From Peace” gets a bit heavier and raw in the last third of the song. The last of the live tracks, “Black Winds” is a bit heavy. It contains a dreamlike vocal by Stein and gets a bit trippy toward the end of the song.

The two studio outtakes included on the EP hold their own with the live tracks. “The Consequence of Pain” opens with the line “F—k you for knocking on my door,” and its pop sound, which is at times intertwined with heavier bits, stands in contrast to the lyrics about personal pain. “When The Feeling Comes” is an acoustic song with a beautiful vocal by Stein. The perfect, light backing by the band puts Stein’s vocal front and center.

Locked Down – Live From Brighton Electric is a digital-only release. The performances of the EP’s six live tracks were all filmed and can be seen on YouTube.