Nashville’s self-described “troubadour” Stephen Sanchez is reinventing love for the new generation. He’s the dream man for a youth culture living in nostalgia, obsessed with vinyl records, nineties fashion and now, rock and roll romance. With his new single ‘Only Girl’, it’s clear Stephen Sanchez has the classic pop-rock genre on lock.



Stephen broke out into music in June 2020, when his cover of Cage the Elephant’s ‘Cigarette Daydreams’ went viral on TikTok. Simple yet effective, his take on the indie cult classic combined the original acoustic guitar with a heartfelt voice that brought new meaning to the well-trodden lyrics. As a result, Stephen’s social media following grew exponentially, landing him a deal with Republic Records.

Stephen’s debut single ‘Lady By The Sea’, produced by New Jersey singer-songwriter Jeremy Zucker, introduced his sound as glittering folk pop. A striking song about a girl who “plays hard to get while hanging out on the beach”, its bright guitars and sweeping harmonies make for a dreamy description of his love interest. “Your voice it blooms the flowers on the beach, with lips that glisten in the moonlight every time you speak”, Stephen whispers, completely melting the hearts of his listeners. It was clear from the get-go that Stephen could bring back the golden oldies, revitalising genuine love songs of long-term romance, even in the era of online hook-ups and casual feelings.



On his debut EP What Was, Not Now, Stephen buckled down and made romance his own genre. From the ambient, reverb-drenched ‘The Pool’, to the joyously cinematic ‘Hold Her While You Can’, or the brutally honest exploration of the friend zone on ‘I Want You’, the intensity of Stephen’s love shines through every track. There’s a fragility to his music that could have once been argued a lost art.



His explosive internet hit ‘Until I Found You’ truly defined Stephen’s style. Inspired by 60s crooners and smooth soft rock, it’s the modern age equivalent of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’. Sixties-esque drums back this waltzing track in a manner that makes its listeners feel as if they’re slow dancing at a high school prom time forgot.



Similarly, the majestic follow-up single ‘Evangeline’ elevates this direction. Stephen now has his belting voice on lock, and his production opts for a classic, lo-fi sound, filled with samples and vintage sound effects that make the song seem as if it’s playing from an old gramophone. Moreover, Stephen’s accompanying visuals have moved away from the quirky hand drawn art that adorned his first two EPs, into soft, glowing 50s style photography. The ‘Evangeline’ cover art showcases the titular character in stunning clarity, pictured as incomparably beautifully as the lyrics describe. “Anybody call a doctor, I’m a thousand degrees in love,” he sings. It’s as if you can see the stars reflecting in his eyes, and who could blame him?



At only twenty years old, Sanchez’s impact on music is palpable. He combines classic times with modern sensibilities, bringing back the magic of true love for a society now desperately in need of such a reminder. This is a young man of the digital age, somehow still only ever seen in a full suit and tie, seemingly living in old-timey theatres and soft camera blurs. He’s a culmination of musical history, shot by cupid’s bow.

The love is coming to Aotearoa this June, where Stephen will play his debut show on our shores at Auckland’s Powerstation. His latest release ‘Only Girl’ is sure to make an appearance on the setlist. It’s a whirlwind track, conceptualising a rivalry set in 1964 between Stephen, and the former flame of his love interest, Evangeline. Warbling vocals and shuddering lyrics make this track an unforgettable moment in his discography, and yet another reason not to miss him live next month.




Catch Stephen Sanchez at Auckland’s Powerstation this June 10. Find tickets here.