Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones are fronted by a 21-year-old powerhouse guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. The South Carolina-born artist, who formed the band as an eight-year-old, has developed a powerful and sublime synthesis of skills and makes it clear that the future is hers to conquer.
On their new self-titled album, Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones (available everywhere now) the band — who’ve played over 2,000 shows — digs to their core and leaves it all on the floor. The album is an aural kaleidoscope of blazing guitars and searing vocals, all of which establish Wicklund as a triple-threat player, singer and writer.
The album’s producer, Sadler Vaden, says: “Once we started writing some songs, I saw that she had a real, raw talent. I was inspired to work with her by her love of classic rock music and blues. I wanted to honor that in making this album, but also add a little modern edge to it.”
On the 10-track album, Wicklund taps into the fury of loneliness (“Ghost”). She resurrects specters of Hendrix and Joplin (“Looking Glass”) as well as power ballad intensity (“Strawberry Moon”). Then, just as she’s supercharged you with about as much raw energy that you can handle, she lets you down gently with the acoustic intimacy of “Shadow Boxes”— all the while her vocals achieving a raw intensity that is rarely found elsewhere. It all comes together in a perfect blend of old-school rock ’n’ roll as viewed through the eyes of a new generation’s urgency.
That impression is doubly emphasized in the video for the album’s first single, “Bomb Through The Breeze,” a performance video featuring a hurricane of swirling color interspersed with black bunnies and slithering snakes creating an eerie visual environment.
“Sadler and I wrote the song “Bomb Through the Breeze” as a response to feeling backed into a corner by someone who doesn't get the hint,” says Wicklund. “This is the type of song to hopefully inspire some self-confidence when it comes to standing up for yourself and others. Unfortunately, when someone's volume is on loud for so long, the only way to get their attention is to do something even louder.”
The buzz about Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones continues to grow globally. Guitar Player Editor-In-Chief Michael Molenda (posting at GuitarPlayer.com on 9/13/17) has heralded Wicklund “not simply as a shredder or a tonal colorist, though she certainly has chops and can go for some buzzy and less-than-organic sounds. What’s impressive to me is how she uses her custom Tom Anderson guitar and Orange half-stack to drive the emotional context of her songs with a combination of spiky rhythms, slow lines, fast runs and cagey riffs. It all adds up to a thrilling ride.”
Within 1 week of release of the album, it has been selected to appear on many of the Spotify tastemaker playlists, including Fierce Femmes & New Noise along with the “Bomb Through The Breeze” video being the first ever independent artist featured in the Top 10 on the Rock This playlist!
Hannah credits her father with instilling the lesson of never losing the intensity that music requires. Her first guitar was a present from him, as a kind of atonement for getting rid of her backyard trampoline. That very night, he taught her to play “Rockin’ In The Free World” and Tom Petty’s “It’s Good To Be King.” (Creativity runs through the family: her mother, a talented artist, painted the latest Steppin Stones album cover.)
The band will continue to tour for the remainder of 2018 with past appearances including major events such as the Peach Music Festival, Firefly Music Festival and Kaaboo Del Mar.
She grew up knowing that her life would be consumed by music. And somehow it feels as though it is only the beginning...