‘Delivering a beautifully understated musicality and heartfelt lyricism, Stef’s personal storytelling truly resonates.’
Having had the opportunity to premiere Stef’s previous single ‘Rusty’ a few months back, the news that he was to release his third track of the year was both much anticipated and most welcomed. The polished sound brought home just how right he was to return to songwriting, the lyrical honesty a signpost of his musicality. And, with ‘Nothing Changes’ taking on an even deeper sense of reflection, this is only enhanced.
Bringing immediate contrast to the aforementioned release, ‘Nothing Changes’ begins with a sense of instrumental intimacy and gentle groove. Causing you to tap your toe or subtly sway, the showcase guitar licks that form the basis of this introduction generate the most appropriate of sensations. You can imagine a bar, where a lone drinker is sipping on the dregs of whiskey, reflecting on life. It’s indeed a far cry from what we’ve heard to date, but for a track inspired by how a friendship group can be just as close when divided across the globe, it really couldn’t be better.
Taking the differences in musicality through into the vocals, rather than the impassioned delivery we experienced previously, here, a gorgeous, soft, and tender tone emerges. There are, of course, harmonies, but these too sit delicately in the mix meaning you really have to listen for them. In itself, this is delightful, but with the setting drawing you into the storytelling, lines such ‘you see me with eyes wide open/closed’ deliver poignancy around the openness we all know to be true with those we consider our external family.
Transitioning beyond the early verse content, the seamless way in which we arrive at the chorus continues to guide us along this path of reflection that Stef is auditorily painting. It is, at a time when we can all start to reconnect with those we haven’t seen or spoken to over the past year or so, a message that truly resonates. Likewise, in taking us to the title lyrics via ‘our history’s just memories, and when you come home Nothing Changes’ the level of relatability is indeed next level.
Returning our focus to the instrumental qualities of the track, a brief reprise of the opening motifs carry warmth and make us realise the strength within. Where the lyricism sings the narrative so well, the continually lilting, rim-shot snare infused percussion truly enhances our enjoyment. Furthermore, with each fragment of the bluesy guitar sympathetically joining with the next, the beautifully interwoven texture proves the moments between verses to be just as showcase.
Enhancing the storytelling set out in the first verse, the second sees the deep connection we find with those we are closest to explored, while juxtaposing it with physical distance. Referring to the former, ‘The way you speak I already know’, nods affectionately to understanding someone fully, while ‘Oh where is home?’ relates wonderfully to the locations across which Stef and his friends were at the time of writing the track. However, in a metaphorical manner, these also highlight how ‘home’ may not be a place, but a feeling of comfort found through chatting to people like you only saw them yesterday.
Continually building on these tendencies, ahead of the closing moments lyrical phrases such as ‘When you come home [nothing changes]’ further enhance the relatability. Equally, the alternation of sung and spoken settings above a more reserved accompaniment ensures there is a window into actions, thoughts, and feelings. In short, the narrative is one that is perhaps the most apt there could be right now, and one that, through a beautifully meandering, instrumentally centred ending, encourages us to reflect just as much as Stef has himself.