Stephen Simmons was raised in the small town of Woodbury, Tennessee. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father held a factory job. In his family, they were the first generation that didn’t work the farm. As a songwriter, Stephen’s vision has grown to entail more than just reflections of rural America. The songs on his new recording, Girls, deal with existential realities that are familiar to country and city dwellers alike: redemption, heartbreak, hangovers and the loneliness of the road. Like Stephen’s previous records, The Superstore, Last Call, Drink Ring Jesus, Something In Between, and The Blame’s On U.S. (which were compared to everyone from Johnny Cash to Ryan Adams), Girls combines virtuosic songcraft and musicianship with unparalleled artistic honesty.
Simmons spent early 2008 touring in support of the North American release of Something In Between (Fall 2007 Rounder Europe release), which included a tour sponsored by American Songwriter Magazine. The later part of 2008 found him teaming with producer Joe McMahan (Kevin Gordon, Jennifer Nicely) and recording an ep of political protest songs; The Blame's On U.S., which extended compassion to the U.S. soldiers, while aiming his pen at political impasse and the war in Iraq. The Blame’s On U.S., which was released to coincide with the 2008 U.S. elections, represented a departure for the Nashville songwriter who’s best known for keen observations of small town life, love and faith. However, Girls (which was recorded in 2008 despite heavy touring in the U.S. and Europe and two album releases) finds Simmons returning to familiar concepts.
Girls, much like 2007’s Something In Between (produced by Richard McLaurin at the legendary House of David Studio in Nashville, TN), differs somewhat from Stephen’s earlier work. If anything, the new recording focuses more on the microcosm of human relationships and less on the broader questions of faith and salvation that defined recordings such as Last Call and Drink Ring Jesus. Girls is a stripped down affair (with only Simmons' accompanying himself on a battered Guild acoustic and the sparse instrumentation of McLaurin on Pedal Steel, Dobro, Mandolin, etc) that features a batch of heartbreak songs originally excluded from Something In Between.
Girls marks the fifth album in less than five years since Simmons released his debut studio album; 2004’s Last Call. “Lay On The Tracks”, a standout from Last Call, was a winner at the prestigious MerleFest Chris Austin Songwriting Competition in 2004. Last Call was praised by critics on both sides of the Atlantic and later picked up by Rounder Europe Records. With that, followed two more Rounder Europe releases, extensive touring in Europe (including high profile shows at the Blue Highways, Rhythm and Blues, and Take Root Festivals in The Netherlands), a major release with U.S. based Americana Records in 2007, and continued, extensive touring across the United States.