Ocean Beach Singer-Songwriter Makes It in Nashville

| May 1, 2022 | 0 Comments

Nashville-based retro Americana singer-songwriter Stacy Antonel is set to release her debut album, “Always the Outsider,” independently on June 17, 2022. An idiosyncratic artist with a background in classical piano, Antonel makes clever Americana that feels both vintage and hyper-modern at the same time. Rooted in classic country but influenced by jazz, pop, and R&B, her throwback “country jazz” style conjures the ’20s-’30s musical era when jazz and country weren’t such disparate genres. “Always the Outsider features compelling, narrative storylines (taking a page from Willie Nelson’s songbook), agile vocal melodies, and unexpected thematic twists.

After recording as Ginger Cowgirl previously, Antonel decided to start releasing music under her own name, and “Always the Outsider is the result. “My musical impulses are extremely diverse, and I want to feel free to follow them without being pigeonholed by the country implications of a name like Ginger Cowgirl,” she explains.

In 2021, Antonel teamed up with guitarist Paul Sgroi (who won 2nd place in the 2021 National Flat Pick Guitar Championship) to work on “Always the Outsider.” Recorded mostly at Singing Serpent Studios in San Diego with producer Ben Moore (Hot Snakes, Diamanda Galas, Burt Bacharach), the album blends elements of mid-century country music with unconventional subject matter and virtuosic instrumentation – including tracks with Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams) on pedal steel and acoustic guitar, and Joe Reed (Merle Haggard) on bass.

Antonel plans three singles prior to the album release. The gentle, vintage, pedal steel-laden swing-and-sway of single one, “Planetary Heartache,” proved the perfect kick-off. The song was released on March 25th and premiered earlier that week at Glide Magazine, who praised the song’s “twangy comfort” and wrote that the real attention-grabber is that “Antonel isn’t trying to sound like anyone else and this isn’t simply another attempt at making music of another era. Instead, she conjures up a classic sound that feels distinctly fresh and modern while also breaking your heart with the emotion she exudes…”

The second single, “Kicking and Screaming,” a spaghetti western-esque traipse through dusty byways, will be released on April 22nd, and the song will premiere at “Americana Highways several days prior.  Single three, the title track “Always the Outsider,” with its tender, twangy shuffle sounding like a classic radio staple, comes out May 20th.

Antonel grew up in Ocean Beach, listening to pop and R&B hits and studying classical piano until she was 18. She cites an eclectic range of artists as her earliest musical inspirations: Tori Amos for her peculiar phrasing and distinct songwriting, and Otis Redding for his rich, emotive vocal delivery. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she moved to Buenos Aires, where she answered a Craigslist ad for a singer who sounded like June Carter Cash, and she contributed vocals to several jingles for MTV and Jeep that aired throughout Latin America. She sang in a friend’s electro-cumbia band for a while before returning to California, where she started singing professionally at weddings, bars, and local venues.

But it wasn’t until discovering country music that she felt at home. “I often felt like a fish out of water in San Diego,” she recalls. “One day I randomly bought a bunch of 99-cent country records and fell in love with the genre; the concision of the writing, the wit, how it doesn’t take itself too seriously even while dealing with deep subject matter.”

In 2013, Antonel won $10,000 in a televised local singing contest, “3 Minutes to Stardom,” and quit her job to focus on music.

She formed a country band later that year, performing covers of classic country hits as Ginger Cowgirl, and in 2017 moved to Nashville to record her debut EP at the city’s Historic RCA Studio C. Ginger Cowgirl released its debut self-titled EP in 2019, featuring five original songs and one cover (a blend of Patsy Cline’s and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”). The EP was praised as an “Americana tour de force” with “razor sharp lyrical wit” and a “refreshing mix of old school and modern spin.” In late 2019, Antonel toured California and the Southeast, and in early 2020 toured the UK and Germany before the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the road a familiar siren call, Antonel plans to tour in support of “Always the Outsider.” Confirmed local tour dates include:

  • June 11 – Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA
  • June 25 – Soda Bar in San Diego, CA
  • July 27 – Balboa Park in San Diego, CA
  • July 31 – Grand Ole BBQ in El Cajon, CA
Stacey Antonel grew up in Ocean Beach, listening to pop and R&B hits and studying classical piano until she was 18. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Patkos.

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