From Seattle to Los Angeles, the classical pianist and singer-songwriter Stefany Bryan tell her truths through a quarantine-created album entitled 'From Portugal to Portugal.'
After classically training in piano for over twelve years, Stefany Bryan's emerging singer-songwriter career flourished while quarantined in Portugal. Writing songs about the raw emotions of loneliness, heartbreak, and feeling down, listeners can experience Stefany Bryan's vulnerable and relatable thoughts throughout her latest album, 'From Portugal to Portugal.'
The album's introduction opens with the dreamy and ethereal tune, "Lemons and Limes." With help from chiming keyboards and a strong piano lead, Stefany Bryan stands her ground and sings inspirational words of making lemonade with life's lemons. Moving onto the second piece, "Building/Burning Bridges," a melancholy and heartfelt piano melody leads the way alongside Stefany Bryan's intense vocal delivery. While singing about building bridges only to burn them down in the end, she gives listeners emotional concepts to connect with easily.
Opening the third track, "Sheep," with a playful and upbeat piano melody, Stefany Bryan later makes her way in and touches on falling too deep to dig herself out. As the background instrumentals begin to expand through minimal keys and synths, the piece comes to a cinematic ending. A magnetic introduction takes the next piece, "Through My Empty Pockets," all while Stefany Bryan begins pouring her emotional lyrics over the track right from the jump. Singing of being without a home and getting used to being on her own, the surrounding instrumentals offer a breathtaking experience that perfectly complements Stefany Bryan's raw emotion.
Deepening the emotion for the next track, "Open Your Eyes," a low and slow piano melody opens this piece while Stefany Bryan sings of losing someone that's more than dear to her. With the addition of soft string elements and soothing synths, Stefany Bryan lets us float through the rest of the track like a daydream. Livening up the soul for the next tune, "Rock," a powerful piano, synth, and keyboard arrangement takes the introduction while Stefany Bryan sings of taking a load off and drifting into dreamland. Truly a cinematic piece, Stefany Bryan knows precisely how to induce chills within her listeners through each sonic and lyrical arrangement.
Bringing the energy back with the next track, "Much Longer," a playful piano intro paves the way through the song while Stefany Bryan begins singing of how hindsight is 20/20. A reflective track, the accompanying fluttering instrumentals offer a profound orchestral aspect that livens the spirit and mood. Slowing it down again for the 8th piece, "William, Stay Young," Stefany Bryan sings a passionate birthday message to a young boy while offering sound advice and guidance.
Landing on the album's title track, "From Portugal to Portugal," Stefany Bryan takes us through an emotional adventure with her brilliant and textured piano melodies, accompanying keyboards, and her relatable lyricism surrounding the journey of finding one's voice. Heightening the emotion for the 10th track, "In My Bones," we hear Stefany Bryan sing one of the most emotional and saddening lyrical messages yet. While touching on feeling jaded by repeating the same mistakes, the surrounding instrumentals swell into this inspirational tone and lift us to the outro.
Through the next track, "Daddy's Love Language," Stefany Bryan sings of regretting not to look before she fell while embarking on a new relationship and simultaneously mending her scars of the past. The soulful piano melodies lead us to the album's outro track, "A Room With No Windows." Stefany Bryan pays tribute to lives everywhere who've been sticking out their loneliness during the pandemic; she continues to push through the track alongside the cinematic and mid-tempo instrumentals that float with grace and peacefully come to an end.
Experience the diverse emotion and conceptual messages of Stefany Bryan's sophomore album, 'From Portugal to Portugal,' available now on all digital streaming platforms.
We adore the cinematic and ethereal approach you've taken with your sophomore studio album, 'From Portugal to Portugal.' When did you begin finding ideas and inspiration for the album?
Well, they initially started immediately after I had released my first album. I was already writing new songs and that's why I released three singles (that are now on the album) right before I left for Portugal. I already knew I wasn't going to stop writing, so the idea really was already there.
Seeing as most of the songs within 'From Portugal to Portugal' were created during your quarantine in Portugal, what kept you inspired to keep writing songs for the album throughout this challenging time?
Being locked up alone, in a foreign country, really just gives you a lot of time to be with your thoughts. Naturally, I was feeling lonely and emotional, so writing songs was the easiest way for me to express myself. I kind of had two waves of musical inspiration. The first was in lockdown, but when things opened up during the summer in Lisbon, I actually had a few months of writer's block. I was out and about, meeting new people, and I wasn't focused on writing songs as much. But my mental health fluctuated a lot during my time there and after a single incident, Daddy's Love Language came super easy to me and basically broke my writer's block. After that, it sparked the momentum to finish the rest of the album. In general, all my songs stem from real-life experiences and just the way in which they impact me or make me feel a certain way. If you want me to be more specific, I can say most of my songs are inspired by boy problems and feeling sorry for myself. I like to let things flow naturally. That's why there was a writer's block moment. So maybe it doesn't even need to be called writer's block since I wasn't forcing anything. Maybe it's just like a two-month hiatus. If I'm not feeling inspired, then I won't try to force anything. But luckily for me, I'm a very emotional and sensitive person, so it's really easy to turn those feelings into songs. Did you create and compose the instrumentals yourself within the album, 'From Portugal to Portugal'? What was your instrumental creative process like for the project?
Yes, everything is composed by me. Honestly, I don't have a great system for composing. I usually start by picking a key, and then I just mess around and start singing with the notes until something sticks. That's also why my songs might not always fit the typical song format. I find it funny that most of my songs mimic the way songs with vocals are composed for piano. I don't do it on purpose, but I started noticing a pattern, and I know exactly why it's like that. I was classically trained in piano from a very young age, and about highschool age, I started getting to pick my own songs to play. I would always pick Beatles songs, but since I wasn't a singer, the vocals would be in the right hand and the instrumentals in the left. I started to notice my songs kind of do the same but with me singing: melody in the right and keeping the beat in the left. So maybe subconsciously that's my process. But I think more than anything my process is just not a process. It's just playing notes until I like it.
Which song from the album 'From Portugal to Portugal' was the most difficult to create in terms of emotion and vulnerability? Did you face any challenges when writing your songs?
Well, I would say all my songs are very vulnerable, but in a way that makes them easier to create. I'm not hiding anything; I'm just being authentic and me. I think I've found a way to take my insecurities and turn them into songs. Maybe in terms of the song that took the longest to write, I'd say it was "Open Your Eyes." It's about a very specific person who really hurt me and made me question myself when I was already at a super low point and struggling. But it was a weird mix of having strong feelings in reaction to what this person did, yet still not even knowing much about this person. So it's a weird juxtaposition, so maybe that's why it took a little longer to write. I do face a lot of challenges when writing my songs. Mostly it's just my actual songwriting skills. Like I don't want songs to sound too similar, and I know I need to add variation both to the instrumental part and the vocals. What usually comes easiest is the lyrics because I am a writer, and all I'm doing is writing about something I'm an expert on, but putting together a whole song is something that I am not an expert on. I'm still learning and growing.
How does 'From Portugal to Portugal' contrast or resemble your debut album 'The Death of the Songwriter'? Did your style or sound experience any change between these two projects?
In a way, they are similar simply because all of my songs on both albums are all sad. I just haven't figured out how to write a happy song yet. However, since I'm still so new to songwriting, I've seen myself improve just from one song to the next. So I would like to at least think that 'From Portugal to Portugal' is a slight step up from my first album. We did experiment a little more with different instruments, back up vocals, and harmonizing on this album, so I'm hoping it comes off as a little more elevated than 'The Death of the Songwriter.' So rather than my style changing, I think the better term is it's "evolving."