Stephanie Carlin CD Release 8/9/08


Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Stephanie Carlin releases new CD

By Pat Rogers
Aug 5, 08 6:26 PM

Her voice belts sounds that tremble, swell, and then swoop downward before pausing and rising again. When the music wells again, Stephanie Carlin is taking you with her.

On Saturday, everyone is free to experience the trip for themselves when she unveils her solo CD, “Stephanie Carlin: the Agony and Ecstasy of,” at Eastenders Coffee House in Riverhead on Saturday at 8 p.m.

The Hampton Bays teenager has always had a musical knack for creating whirlwinds of sound. She burst onto the local musical stage two years ago with her group, Shasta. The group included Dylan Martinsen of Riverhead, the son of high school music director Debra Liso. They cut a demo and reconfigured into a band named Oliver Lankard, headed by Ms. Carlin on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, with Mr. Martinsen on bass.

The band morphed from a four-member group to six musicians to an ensemble of 10. At its peak, the group featured a three-piece horn section and three doo-wop backup singers. Life and other interests eventually pulled members away and the band faded into history. But not before generating a solid fan base and scoring gigs at prestige venues.

Oliver Lankard played the Knitting Factory in Manhattan, Maxwell’s in New Jersey and the Crazy Monkey in Farmingdale. They shared a bill with Prentiss McNeill of The Drifters. They opened for The Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay, who received raves from Rolling Stone magazine, said Ms. Carlin.

Closer to home, Oliver Lankard appeared twice in the Southampton Town Battle of the Bands, taking first place their first time out. Shasta also cut their teeth at the teenage battle held annually at Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays. Oliver Lankard played battles at Westhampton Beach High School and gigs at Eastenders Coffeehouse in Riverhead.

Taking the stage with a mob of people allowed for a riot of music that swirled and bounced from player to player on stage then projected outward to wrap around the audience. Within the routine chaos, certain things were always clear—musicianship born of knowledge was unfolding and Ms. Carlin’s unique vocals were at the epicenter. Her range reaches from rock to doo-wop but her passion belongs to jazz and the spontaneous creation of music that can’t be replicated and is best experienced live.

Now, having experienced the slipping away of her ensemble and looking at the start of college, Ms. Carlin decided to claim her place in her own music as singer-songwriter. For her first professional release, Ms. Carlin recorded four songs at a Manhattan studio that capture her passion for music, living and love while showcasing the vocals and vision that drove Oliver Lankard to success.

“I needed to do this,” she said, describing the decision to walk away from several tracks already cut as a band and make the move to record a solo CD. “It was obtainable yet felt so far away. I wanted to do it right and had to bring the music closer to home.”

The tracks as a band had been recorded at an area studio that couldn’t produce the quality Ms. Carlin was looking for. So she headed to Manhattan to record and produced the release at Studio Forever Progressive Music. She brought with her four songs that captured her beginnings as a songwriter and her maturity as an evolving musician.

The final cut of “the Agony and Ecstasy” is just more than 16 minutes of music. Each song captures the highs, lows and passion of love affairs that eventually go bad and leave the heart in rubble. Each also puts up front the unique vocals and lyrics that made Shasta stand out from their very first performance. Ms. Carlin’s voice embodies the lilting tones and textured melodies of vocalist Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries and the power singing of Grace Slick fronting for The Jefferson Airplane.

The lyrics are personal and revealing. They can be in-your-face obvious or mysterious in meaning. Ms. Carlin said she decided not to flinch and put it all out there.

“The songs and lyrics are intimate and personal,” she said. “My parents read them, my relatives and people I know would hear them. But these are what I’ve experienced so far and this is what I can do right now.”

The CD release party on Saturday at Eastenders is one of her final stops before heading to study jazz theory and composition at Long Island University in Brooklyn. Other gigs have already been lined up for Brooklyn and Manhattan venues. No matter what happens with “the Agony and Ecstasy of,” Ms. Carlin is certain her future will be successful as a singer-songwriter. She just turned down a possibly lucrative contract with a recording company that would have paired her music with the clothing lines of top fashion designers, she said. The reason: creative freedom.

“They wanted to ‘help’ me write songs and said my name would have writing credits,” she said. “I don’t need anyone to write songs or lyrics for me. It didn’t seem like I would have the freedom so I turned it down. I know I’ll be a success—I won’t ever give up, so success is the only option.”

Stephanie Carlin’s music can be found at or The CD release party will feature songs from “the Agony and Ecstasy of” and other original music by Ms. Carlin. It will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at Eastenders Coffee House, 40 East Main Street, Riverhead. There is a $5 cover charge.

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