The full-length debut from Lennon Stella, Three. Two. One. occupies the strange and liminal space between adolescence and adulthood. With her softly spellbinding vocal presence, the 20-year-old singer/songwriter documents the thrill and confusion and sometimes sadness that comes with growing up, each song bringing her one step closer to finding her own place in the world. Through that process of self-discovery, the two-time JUNO Award-nominated artist simultaneously arrived at a sonic identity perfectly suited to her sensibilities: dreamy and delicate, elegantly left-of-center, entirely unafraid of slipping into unexpected terrain.
In the spirit of exploration and adventure, the title to Three. Two. One. alludes to the final countdown before a wild leap into the unknown, and all the courage and boldness that requires. “This album really feels like me diving headfirst into making music that I love, without any expectation or fear,” says Stella, who’s based in Nashville. “It’s the first time I felt freed of all pressure and just let the songs flow out of me, and I ended up creating something completely true to who I am.”
Made with producers such as Malay (Frank Ocean, Lykke Li), Joel Little (Lorde, Taylor Swift, Bebe Rexha), and Eg White (Sam Smith, Dua Lipa, Florence + the Machine), Three. Two. One. builds a brilliantly detailed world around Stella’s reflections and revelations. With its endless sonic flourishes—gauzy guitar riffs, languid synth lines, warped and woozy beats—the album embodies a dynamic pop sound that’s lavishly textured but never fussy or cluttered, allowing Stella abundant space to let her songs wander and breathe.
For Stella, the palpable self-possession of Three. Two. One. is partly rooted in a particularly magical writing camp she assembled in summer 2019. Joined by songwriters/producers like Leroy “Big Taste” Clampitt (Ashe, Phoebe Ryan), Captain Cuts (MARINA, Carly Rae Jepsen), and Simon Wilcox (Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez), Stella spent 11 life-changing days in Mexico, holed up in a mostly empty hotel on the ocean. “There was so much freedom during our time there,” Stella recalls. “Sometimes we’d go write a song on the beach, sometimes we’d start a session at 10 o’clock at night and keep going until the morning. Up until that point, I’d never had the experience of getting creative and experimental with people who I felt really understood me, and it felt like something I’d needed my whole life.”
In finalizing the songs for Three. Two. One., Stella kept many of the vocal takes she’d laid down in Mexico, imbuing the album with raw emotion and unfettered intimacy. Though her songs often contend with the disappointments and frustrations of young love, several tracks assume a far more lighthearted mood, gently showcasing the luminous quality of Stella’s voice. On “Jealous,” for instance, she blithely confronts a self-involved ex, the track’s glossy beats and glittering tones creating a gorgeous backdrop to her fantastically blunt lyrics (e.g., “If I can live without you, sue me”). “It’s about that experience of having someone think everything you do is intentionally trying to get to them, when really you’re not thinking about them at all,” says Stella. “It’s me saying, ‘Hey, don’t flatter yourself—I’m just doing my thing.’”
Co-written with JP Saxe (Snoh Aalegra, Julia Michaels), “Golf on TV” telegraphs a lovestruck sense of wonder, its opening lines revealing Stella’s gifts as a storyteller (“I woke up to the bed made/And you’re downstairs/Doing the dishes/And my mom’s there/She’s kind of obsessed with you/I think that I might be too/She thinks that you’re good for me/That’s not something I’m used to”). Elsewhere on Three. Two. One., Stella’s musings on love and romance encompass everything from the feverish dance-pop of “Fear of Being Alone” to the guitar-drenched splendor of “Pretty Boy,” every track infused with equal parts sensitivity and strength.
One of the most poignant moments on Three. Two. One., “Weakness (Huey Lewis)” finds Stella’s younger sister Maisy accompanying her on a sprawling two-part epic, its heavy-hearted mood informed by their parents’ divorce. With its sweetly moving intro (a home-movie clip from when Maisy was a baby), “Weakness” unfolds in stark guitar work as the two sisters’ tender vocal performance echoes their unbreakable bond. “My sister has every ounce of power over my emotions, and she’s the same way with me,” says Stella. “Everything can be totally fine, but as soon as either one of us goes through a tough time, all the walls immediately come down.” Conceived as a safety blanket in song form, the track’s atmospheric second half pays tribute to a shared childhood obsession. “When I was younger Huey Lewis was all I listened to, and I wanted to put a time stamp on when our family was very, very happy,” Stella explains.
Since her earliest years, family has played an essential part in Stella’s path as an artist. Originally from Oshawa, Ontario, she grew up in an incredibly musical household—her parents finding fame as a singer/songwriter duo called The Stellas—and started playing guitar at the young age of five. Not long after the family relocated to Tennessee, both Stella and her sister joined the cast of Nashville and quickly became an overnight sensation thanks to their viral cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” (a rendition they’d initially performed at a school talent show, then uploaded to YouTube to share with their family back home in Canada). As they continued to build a powerful momentum, the duo scored a Top 40 hit with their cover of The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” in 2013.Having written her first song at age seven, Stella began taking part in songwriting sessions by the time she was 15, soon landing a deal with RECORDS/Columbia Records and setting to work on her 2018 debut EP Love, me. Made with acclaimed producers like Greg Kurstin (a seven-time Grammy Award-winner known for his work with Adele and Paul McCartney), Love, me led to her nominations for Single of the Year (for “La Di Da”) and Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2020 JUNO Awards, and reached the top 5 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums Chart. An in-demand featured artist as well, she’s appeared on hit tracks like “Takeaway” by The Chainsmokers and Illenium, and teamed up with Jonas Blue and Liam Payne for the chart-topping 2018 single “Polaroid.” Over the years, Stella has also brought her magnetic live performance to headline runs in North America, the UK, and Europe, in addition to opening for such artists as Anne-Marie, The Chainsmokers, and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Not only marking a major breakthrough in her musical growth, Three. Two. One. helped to clarify Stella’s underlying philosophy as a songwriter and artist. “I don’t really believe in writing with the intention of making a song relatable, or trying to capture some universal kind of feeling,” she says. “The most important thing for me is to be as transparent as I possibly can, regardless of what I’m trying to express. I just try to trust that if I’m being completely honest about the things I’ve gone through, then people will understand and connect and draw a parallel to their own lives, and the songs will end up doing the healing they should.”
Saturday, July 9
Virgin Plus Stage
10:00 PM-11:15 PM