REVIEW: Stephen Winston — One True Story (LP)

Stephen Winston’s newest release, One True Story is the album that was never supposed to be an album. It’s a collection of material that was written in the middle of the 2000s, yet for the most part, feels refreshingly modern. Some of the songs written from 2003 to 2007, landed on Winston’s first album. The remainder were preserved by Musician/Producer, Michael Pfeifer, and have now found their way onto One True Story. Though the entire scenario seems terribly complex and hard to comprehend, Winston feels the process has held great meaning for him.



Winston draws comparisons to a release of archives, from Neil Young and Elton John as part of his inspiration for this project. He wasn’t sure the tracks had been retained but took a why-not attitude, and made a full-length record out of it. On paper, it seems like an iffy experiment, but from a purely artistic standpoint, he seems to have succeeded to some extent. There are 11 tracks on the album, only one of which, was written over the previous year. Strangely, it unfolds as a relatively cohesive narrative.

“All Quiet In The Bronx,” was actually penned in 2001, but wouldn’t sound out of place in 1971 or 1981. You’ll hear Elton John at the first press of the piano keys, and even a little Gilbert O’Sullivan, in the vocals. The piece is said to be inspired by the aftermath and solemn tentativeness, of 9/11. It’s hard to believe we were dealing with an entirely different type of global threat, two decades ago. Winston does a good job of describing the visual, lyrically, which includes an eerily prophetic reference to cellphones, instant messages, instant videos, and downloads.

“Winter” is a more contemplative piece, with slightly hushed and dramatic pauses. It’s extremely low-key, no pun intended, that sets the energy for the remainder of the record. That’s why it’s so striking to hear Winston sing, “winter fills me with rage,” as his voice exudes anything but. This one doesn’t follow a linear pattern, especially lyrically, which seems to be the case on much of this record. It’s an enjoyable song that pulls you in, and you wind up investing more emotion into it, than you would think. Winston uses winter as a metaphor for strife and hardship, quite effectively, especially for anyone who has ever endured a Colorado season.

“Lavington Hill” boasts a stronger melody than either of the previous two tracks. This is where the musicality, truly begins to shine. The arrangement is like an ear massage, and the guitars are tuned especially well. There’s even a nice little solo, towards the latter portion of the song. You’ll hear shades of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” on this one.


Stephen Winston has done a fine job of turning an accident into a piece of art. He must have been met with some sort of divine epiphany, because the timing lined up, remarkably well. He’s a rare breed of Singer/Songwriter, at this point, doing his part to keep a reclusive genre, relevant. The result, is a very grown-up album, at a time that we need grown-up voices. It’s One True Story, nearly twenty years in the making.

Colin Jordan