by Thomas Durkin
One of the best aspects of any local music scene is listening to how musicians fit into the musical landscape. Some acts struggle with understanding what they are and what they intend to be. Some simply appreciate the novelty of being in a band. Others have visions of grandeur and glom on to the hot trend of the day. No matter what route is taken, there is certainly no guarantee of success. But if you listen long enough, there is the refreshing and rewarding experience of encountering a musician with all-around talent — vocally, instrumentally, and lyrically. That’s the case with Stephanie Dosen. Listening to the Milwaukee singer’s ghosts, mice & vagabonds for the first time is a cathartic experience. Stephanie Dosen’s angelic voice on this CD, her first solo album, is soothing, reassuring, and refreshing. Dosen possesses such a wide vocal range that it is hard not to be drawn to her music. At times Dosen may sound like Ani Difranco’s distant cousin — without the angst — but her sound is distinctive enough to stand on its own. In addition to Dosen’s beautiful voice and sly, gentle guitar work, her lyrics are penetrating. She understands the craftsmanship involved with creating vibrant, thought-provoking words that come to life. Dosen’s lyrics are challenging in a way that allows for individual interpretation. Dosen never abandons her audience, but rather sets out on the journey with them. In “Song of the Maydoves,” Dosen positions herself as a guiding influence as she sings, “Hey there, don’t be sad / I’m your angel forever now.” Even when heartbreak and loss serve as themes in her songs, Dosen’s lyrics focus on the growth, maturation, and self-reliance of the individual spirit. For instance, on “Weak,” Dosen sings, “I would be your butterfly, you could pin my wings / Spread my arms wide open for you, I’d do anything / You just think it’s funny, it’s the second time / Just leave me like you found me baby, I will be just fine.” There is a positive sense of defiance in the face of adversity which allows the audience to embrace Dosen’s lyrics and develop a bond with the singer. Stephanie Dosen’s ghosts, mice & vagabonds is a rewarding experience for the listener. The album is filled with beautifully crafted songs and shows that Dosen is a musician to be reckoned with. To find out more about Stephanie Dosen, please check out www.stephaniedosen.com.