What began as a collection of musicians and friends sharing similar interests, talents and experiences while living in Laramie has culminated with a debut album.
The seven-member 10 Cent Stranger, a local band with an Americana country-folk vibe, balances love with loss and a sense of home against a restless drive to leave in their collections of songs on “When You Move On,” released Aug. 13.
10 Cent Stranger began its journey in 2015 as a way to survive the long, harsh Laramie winters. The band — Bob Lefevre (vocals, guitar), Laniece Schliecher (vocals), Elianna Paninos (vocals), Jackson Clarendon (fiddle), J. Shogren (resonator), Shawn Hess (bass) and Mike Krupp (drums) — grew into a close-knit collective sharing a love for music, connection and their Wyoming roots.
“My favorite thing about playing with 10 Cent is the music that comes from our coming together and playing — great songwriting and talented people create some great music,” Krupp said in a press release from the band’s artist manager/publicist Amara Fehring.
Since it’s the first album for the band, the creative process is derived from songs it has been playing for years and newer compositions featuring what the band has experienced in the last year.
“The songs that went on the album weren’t conceived as an album,” Lefevre said. “We have a pretty extensive backlog of songs. We threw all the contenders in the ring and let them fight it out in a big battle royale.
“Some of these songs we have been playing for years, but some were newer. ‘Where You Been?’ was written right before we went to the studio, and it just felt like it’d encapsulate a lot of what we were going through at the time.”
Fueled by nostalgia, heartbreak, resilience and the echo of open spaces, the songs that make up the debut release are a late-night love letter to the complicated and comforting realities of home. Each song has a charming blend of radiant vocal harmonies, refreshing folk-country instrumentation and an earnest storyteller demeanor.
The album is sentimental and truthful, warm and lonely, gentle and energetic. From the tender, pared-down “Where You Been” to the swinging, reflective nature of “When You Move On,” 10 Cent Stranger meets listeners at the junction between classic Wyoming stoicism and the sound of a breaking heart. Masterful melodies and articulate lyrics are the defining features in the album's songwriting — a trait of primary songwriter Lefevre.
“My writing tends to gravitate toward certain themes that felt particularly resonant over the last year — boundless space and isolation, losing touch with people and places and moving on while trying to stay connected,” Lefevre said.
Recorded at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado, by engineer Chris Beeble, the album's 10 songs reflect a band with its own sense of time and place while drawing from influences such as First Aid Kit, John Prine, Son Volt and Brandi Carlile.
“I love working with Chris Beeble at the Blasting Room. He's got a great ear,” Lefevre said. “Between his expertise and the way that studio is set up, it's really easy to concentrate on making music without having to worry about any of the technical aspects of the recording.
"The songs have such a great, warm sound and the band feels tight. It feels great to have such great musicians playing and singing my songs. Having a place where we could all play together at once and play off each other made the album feel like us.”
Although the pandemic created some obstacles in the recording process, the band forged ahead and produced an essential freshman album for the Wyoming music scene.
“Going into the studio was the culmination of so many months of work for everyone and was such a euphoric experience,” Clarendon said. “Everyone was so willing to grind with two or even three rehearsals a week and get these songs down and known so well that when we finally recorded, it all came together.
“There were moments of looking around at everyone thinking, ‘We're making something really cool here, right?’ And then those first playbacks, listening in the booth, everyone was just wide-eyed. It sounded better than we could have ever hoped.” Clarendon said.
“When You Move On” is available to buy as a CD and digital download on tencentstranger.com. The album also is available to stream on all major streaming platforms.