Preconceived notions about the typical Nashville singer-songwriter do little to describe Stacy Lantz. True, she is a bright, young, Nashville singer-songwriter releasing a new album called “Ready This Time”. But so much about Lantz is atypical. As a child, the movie she watched over and over again was not the fad of the day, it was “Calamity Jane”, starring Doris Day. When she finally got to pick a song to learn on piano outside her lesson books, she chose a B-side by Chicago with a tricky waltz rhythm written long before she was born. And Lantz has an easy laugh and a quirky sense of humor, writing songs about relationships that are insightful and hopeful instead of grumpy and maudlin.
Lantz was born and raised in rural Indiana, where she discovered a love for music from her parents and, admittedly, because there wasn’t much else to do. She went to college to study music performance but quickly realized the lessons leaned more toward opera than her preferred styles: Big Band, Jazz, and Pop. She switched to music business, but had a bit of an epiphany her junior year. “I took a songwriting class,” Lantz recalls, “and thought, oh, I can write a song! This makes sense, this is really fun. I had always made up little songs on the piano when I was younger, but never really put together the combination of writing and performing. It kind of clicked then.”
Like so many before her, Lantz moved to Nashville, first to do an internship for college and then to stay. She made a quick impact, with frequent appearances as a background vocalist building toward her own shows and the 2010 release of “Patchwork Plains”. Her work caught the ear of accomplished singer/songwriter/producer/guitar genius Andrew Osenga (Caedmon’s Call, JJ Heller, Chris Tomlin), who offered to produce her next project even before he knew if she was working on one.
As it turns out, Osenga had excellent timing. The new album finds Lantz at a precipice, pondering whether or not it’s worth it to start a bold new venture, to take risks, to dive in. Her declaration in the title track – “Come on, and trust me when I say I’m ready this time” – is based on a series of confirmations that assured Lantz that this project and this moment were right for her. “I had just finished releasing my first record, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do this all over again, but we did and it was a great working experience. Andy's phenomenal, not only as a producer but also as a human being. He's incredibly gifted at what he does.”“Ready This Time” stands out not only for its impressive musicianship and its emotive vocals, but also for its diversity.
The ethereal electric guitars underpinning the title track make way for a surprising doo-wop beat on the opener, Keep It Simple. The song opens an album-long conversation with the listener that will travel through the pain of complacency and mistrust to healing, bright frivolity, and the promise that love is waiting at the end of it all.
A trio of songs in the middle of the album highlights Lantz’s gifts for storytelling that capture deep human emotions. In Colored with Roses, she tells her own story of the transition from pedaling bikes through the wide open countryside of Indiana with her sister to her arrival among the “concrete castles” of the big city with unquenchable ambition and innocence throughout. Past This Part speaks of the tipping point in a relationship when it’s time to either let go or stay and work it out. A stirring guest vocal by David Ramirez describes the pain that can happen with either course: “Choose your weapons wisely. I am delicate, darling.” Make it Through finds a couple that has survived. In fact, the song tells the story of Lantz’s parents, and was written as a gift for them on their anniversary. “Ever since I was little, they always talked about building a log cabin. They would draw plans at the dining room table and dream about all the details. We weren't wealthy by any means growing up, we grew a garden, lived
off the land a lot. With four kids, the cabin was just an idea that stuck with them. Eventually, after we all grew up and moved away, they were able to do it. They started sawing their own logs and building a foundation. My 82-year-old grandma would even carry some of the planed logs! It was definitely a family project. It was really beautiful to see them start from scratch with the plan that they drew up on their own, to watch them fulfill that dream.” Mr. and Mrs. Lantz even make cameo appearances on the album singing background vocals.
To punctuate the hopeful tone of the album, “Ready This Time” closes with a hand-clapping gospel romp called Love is on the Other Side. Lantz channels Bonnie Raitt with a powerhouse vocal, backed by choir, organ, and almost certainly some celebratory swaying.
From the girl who loved Doris Day to the songwriter with a gift that spans genre and convention, the journey that has defined Stacy Lantz has enabled her to create an album that speaks to everyone. This is her time, and she is ready.
by Mark Geil