I STRONGLY BELIEVE that one of the most significant compliments one can give to an artist is, “I’ve never encountered a sound like yours before.” With that straightforward introduction, the most worthwhile action you can take before and after reading this paragraph is to engrave the name Stephen Wilson Jr. into your brain.
Stephen Wilson Jr. has made a remarkable entry into the music scene, marked by his somewhat-recent label deal with Big Loud Records on March 24, 2023 (which is such a perfect fit) . This dual achievement solidifies his status as a rising star in the industry, seamlessly blending elements of country, rock, and an intriguing take on grunge to forge a distinct and genre-defying sound. Wilson’s debut album, Son of Dad, serves as a powerful testament to his journey of self-discovery and healing in the aftermath of his father’s passing in 2018. This exceptional 22-song record defies conventional genre boundaries, offering an enticing fusion of musical styles that mirrors Wilson’s diverse background as a boxer, scientist, and songwriter. The album intimately weaves together Wilson’s personal experiences, paying homage to his father, a single father and auto-body mechanic who raised him and his siblings. Tracks like “Grief Is Only Love,” “Hang in There,” and the autobiographical centerpiece “Father’s Son” resonate with anyone who has experienced the pain of losing a loved one. Rather than dwelling in melancholy, “Son of Dad” takes the listener on a cathartic and high-energy rock & roll journey. While Wilson’s journey began in the boxing ring, he transitioned to the stage as an artist while preserving the fighter’s mentality, carrying the memory of his father with him. The album features standout tracks such as “Patches,” (undoubtedly one of my favorite songs of the year) and “Year to Be Young 1994,” (which I genuinely believe is one of the best-written songs in recent memory) along with “For What It’s Worth.” The latter was recorded by Tim McGraw, marking a full-circle moment in Wilson’s musical odyssey.Wilson Jr.’s unique musical style is aptly self-described as “Death Cab For Country,” encapsulating his ability to draw inspiration from diverse genres, including indie rock, grunge, and country. His influences span a wide spectrum, from The National and Willie Nelson to Nirvana. Notably, Wilson’s songwriting has garnered recognition in the industry, with several of his compositions recorded by well-known artists like Caitlyn Smith, Brothers Osborne, Old Dominion, Tim McGraw, MacKenzie Porter, Sixpence None the Richer, and Leigh Nash. His impact on the world of music is unmistakable, evident in the depth and breadth of his work.
I truly don’t know how to describe this man’s sound, and that’s what makes me the most excited for his future career. In his music, Stephen Wilson Jr. offers a cathartic experience that transcends genres, forging a deep connection with listeners who resonate with his personal journey of grief, self-discovery, and healing. As music fans, we embrace authenticity and I firmly believe that authenticity is the only thing Stephen Wilson Jr. knows. His heartfelt and powerful storytelling serves as a reminder of the profound ability of music to help us comprehend and express complex emotions, inspiring us to keep living, not only for those we’ve lost but also for ourselves.
Shoutout to SWJr and his music, and make sure you check out my favorite bangers from SWJr below…
Year To Be Young 1994