Have you ever heard the saying: ‘you find what you’re looking for once you stop looking for it’? That’s how I felt after Stacy Barthe began singing on Mateo’s “Looking You Up.” Before the record faded, three tabs regarding the silky-voiced creature were open.
Barthe, a Brooklyn-raised singer-songwriter, honed her natural gift for writing at New York’s Saint John’s University. While there–browsing MySpace (circa 2007)–she developed a working relationship with Chauncey Hollis, who goes by the moniker Hit-Boy (yes, Kanye West’s secret weapon). He quickly recognized her genius and invited her to relocate to Atlanta to be apart of his budding Surf Club crew, to which she obliged.
Stacy dived headfirst into songwriting, penning records for an array of artists, including Britney Spears (“Blur”), her first major credit, Rihanna [“Cheers (Drink To That)”] and Katy Perry (“Hummingbird Heartbeat”). Like most decorated songwriters, Stacy wrote relatively meaningless songs for mildly talented but majorly recognized recording artists, while the desire to branch out as full-fledge artist burned inside of her. This desire yielded 2011’s Sincerely Yours, Stacy Barthe, an 8-track collection of her innermost thoughts.
Following the death of a close friend, Stacy took refuge in her home and secluded herself from the world. “There’s just a hint of light, peeking through my blind/and it hurts my eyes, so I keep them closed,” she dolefully sings on the “Comfy Little Coffin,” a guitar-driven standout on ‘Sincerely’. “Ever since this recent departure, I have no desire to be out in the world alone.” Stacy reveals the poignant lyrics were written from the perspective of her late friend’s wife.
Slinky and delicate, “Without You” is another notable. Barthe bravely tells Frank Ocean (yes, that one) that she can’t live without him over constant lasers and snares. Ocean toys with her emotion by saying he kept ‘a pair of her panties under her pillowcase’, but he no longer desires her affection. What a bastard, that Frank.
Earlier this year, she followed ‘Sincerely’ with In the InBetween, a 9-piece extended play that works as an extension of its hazy predecessor. ‘InBetween’ opens and closes with “Find Your Way,” “Easier Said Than Done” and “Keep It Like It Is,” records boasting strummy, reggae-tinged production and sultry vocals, much like what you’d expect from Sade. Island-flavored elements are found elsewhere on the EP, too, including the John Legend-assisted “No Strings Attached,” a tune about the lust that comes with boredom. “Misery loves company, so won’t you come over babe, spend the night with me,” Barthe beckons to Legend. “Since Mr. Right and come through tonight, why don’t you come show me what sex with you is like?”
Speaking of John–prior to fulfilling Stacy’s sexual fantasies, he joined her on 2011’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a horn-heavy tune that is seemingly unrelated to Frank Loesser’s classic of the same name that was popularized by Ray Charles. ‘Cold’, along with other warm Christmas-y songs appear on Stacy’s The Seven Days of Christmas EP.
Stacy is currently under the tutelage of Legend at Homeschool Records. She is presenting P.S. I Love You, another EP filled with “yacht music,” on November 13th. She worked with Danja, Jerry Wonder and Supa Dups to craft the Caribbean-world/hip hop-infused project.
Frills and technical expertise are practically futile to artists emotionally invested in their craft. Few contemporary artists understand the definitive brilliance of simple yet elegant presentation. Alicia Keys gets it; Adele gets it; Emeli Sandé gets it; Stacy Barthe gets it.
“Never Did” (Sincerely Yours)
“Keep It Like Us” (In The InBetween)
Studio Session With Brandy