Annie Stela could be the next big thing. She just needs to be discovered by someone â€šÃ„Ã¬ I mean, something â€šÃ„Ã¬ like Apple or Rhapsody. Stela could easily take the place of Sara Bareilles in the Rhapsody commercial that propelled her into the public eye. Stela’s “It’s You” would make a great replacement for Bareilles’ “Love Song.” But so would songs by many other young singer-songwriters, and therein lies the downfall of Annie Stela’s EP There is a Story Here: she is not unique.But lack of originality doesn’t breed weakness. Stela clearly has talent as a musician and lyricist. There is a Story Here reads like a rollercoaster of excitement and despair, from the blissful nostalgia of “It’s You” to the stark disappointment of “Hands in the Grass.”
The EP opens with a simple piano riff, soon joined by drums, and lyrics like “Our ankles intertwine and then your hands were a beginning to my body’s end / We kicked our shoes off and lay down on the grassy lawn / Still knew enough to play pretend.” The catchiest song on the EP, “It’s You” highlights Stela’s lyrical prowess but leaves something to be desired with the mundane piano performance and predictable percussion. It’s not quite enough to beat Feist to an iPod commercial, but more than adequate for a spot on The CW’s One Tree Hill soundtrack (it was featured in a 2006 episode).
Stela follows that with the gentle but bittersweet “Breathe Through,” a solo piano piece lamenting the banality of everyday life. “Fool” picks up the tempo, as Stela pairs her lyrical talent with a catchier piano-and-percussion arrangement. Rounding out this short sampling of Annie Stela is the demo track “Hands in the Grass,” a raw solo that offers a glimpse of the songwriter’s vocal range. These tracks aren’t unpleasant, but they also aren’t something no one else has done before. Annie Stela, simply put, is average.