Bayou City

John Allen Stephens Delivers On Debut

John Allen Stephens crafts dance pop with plenty of hooks.
John Allen Stephens crafts dance pop with plenty of hooks. Photo by Daniela Hernandez

When a producer makes music for others, he can bring so much to the table that the hope is that he will make those artists shine. When a producer makes his own music, that's not always the case. However, for Houston's John Allen Stephens,  his debut album Radioclub.Lp, proves real fast that he's a producer who can write and create just as well as he does for those he collaborates with.

The dizzying array of electronics that open the album are met with Stephens' soft vocals on "Asterisk, Pts. 1 and 2." While the beat is essentially from the world of hip hop, the producer isn't treading outside his lane too much with a sultry hook and emotive vocals. There's an element to the track that's a bit reminiscent of Dpat mixed with the heart of an artist like Maxwell.

He follows this with bonafide pop banger, "Speck." Easily one of the strongest electro-pop songs you'll hear, Stephens isn't playing around here, creating multiple hooks. The wilding guitar that comes in on the back end of the track just adds to the precision he displays.

The dance pop vibes of "Crystal Tokyo" featuring Houston's Tee Vee comes off like a track she'd make on her own, while these spacey synths pepper the track like they're adding just enough spice to the dish. While at first glance you'd think the two wouldn't work together vocally, they actually blend together quite nicely.  "Forever"  works as a slow burning pop tune, while the drop on "Summertime" with Daniela Hernandez is stunning, offering up elements of neo-soul in the vein of acts like JMSN and Brent Faiyaz.

Pop is where Stephens feels most at ease, best proven by  "White Lamborghini." Elements that are closest to what artists like Poppy would do mixed with the soulful notes of Masego and Bruno Major make the song as pure as pop music gets.

The soulful and slower notes of "Forever II (Ghost),"show off Stephens' strong points as a songwriter and producer. Two tracks later, Stephens digs into deep electronica on the track "Asterisk, Pts 3 and 4" with Kitty Beebe to close off the album.

You can stream Radioclub.Lp on all platforms or purchase physical copies from music shops around Houston, or from the artist whenever he performs. Definitely keep an eye on whatever he has in the pipeline, as his live sets are just as engaging as his music.
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David Garrick is a former contributor to the Houston Press. His articles focus primarily on Houston music and Houston music events.