I had a daydream this week… I was walking down Valencia St in SF and instead of fancy boutiques and pour-it-yourself brewpubs, the sidewalks were lined with flower kids and VW trip vans. I hopped into one of these said vans and Zelma Stone’s “River” was playing… I leaned my back up against the van’s bench seat, dropped my head back, closed my eyes, sunk into the ravishing rhythm and I was happy.
“River” is the opening cut to San Francisco five-piece Zelma Stone’s debut EP, Layla, out today on Honey House Records.And while songwriter and frontwoman Chloe Zelma’s affinity for Jefferson Airplane is evident, calling Zelma Stone a throwback doesn’t do their promising present justice. Seeing them on-stage early last year, I was struck by how at home their contemporary psychedelia is in San Francisco…and coming from such a sprightly group that’s just starting to find themselves, it’s enough to embrace the heck out of their sound and where it could go.
Recorded at the Bayview-based Light Rail Studios, Layla is named after Zelma’s pup that she inherited from her brother Brett, who passed away in 2009. It’s a rejuvenating collection of songs written by Zelma as she reconciled a handful of losses in her life—her brother’s among them. The record’s fulcrum, “Golden,” with the singer’s potent delivery and a whiskey-washed guitar that ebbs and flows gracefully, feels especially cathartic.
“Writing these songs felt as if I stuffed all my pain, grief and anger into a magical, healing, glass bottle,” Zelma says. “Releasing them feels as if I’m throwing this bottle out to sea in hopes that someone will discover it and find their own meaning and healing from it,”
We’re delighted to feature Layla on the day of it’s release, and welcome you to get to know a glowing bright spot in the San Francisco scene. And you can see Zelma Stone live at their EP Release Party at the wonderful Rickshaw Stop on Saturday, January 19th. Layla is available for download at Bandcamp.
Zelma Stone is Chloe Zelma (vocals/guitar), Haley Pan (bass), Jake Kissner (drums), Jewelz (keys) and Kevin Fielding (lead guitar). Follow the band on Facebook. (Photos by Diana Brewer)