Blue Cactus, the North Carolina duo of Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez, make Cosmic Americana: a blend of grit, glitz, groove, and twang that evokes a celestial soundscape of mid-century heartbreak.
Following their critically acclaimed 2017 debut and a string of singles in 2020 their evolution is made plain on their sophomore LP, Stranger Again, released May 7, 2021 on Sleepy Cat Records. The album has received enthusiastic attention from tastemakers including No Depression, American Songwriter, FLOOD Magazine, Talkhouse, and INDY Week among others.
Stranger Again is a deep dive into Cosmic American music, with the band taking their sound into ambitious new planes, where country-rock meets light psychedelia as the soaring vocals meet twangy slide-guitars and propulsive bass-lines. The otherworldliness of the music is a perfect contrast to their distinctly grounded, human storytelling lyrics. Throughout Stranger Again, they explore loss and longing, self-love and reckoning with personal, political and human struggles.
Their finest work yet, Blue Cactus resuscitate a fleeting style of honest-to-goodness country music considered valueless to a “new” country music where songwriting is officiated by financial analysts and teams of marketing plutocrats instead of woebegone troubadours. With a high lonesome twang, an Emmylou-like southern drawl, and blistering guitar techniques, Blue Cactus’ new record Stranger Again exercises the honky-tonk muscles to firmly bear the flag for a new generation of classic country practitioners.
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Emily Nenni sang her first songs on stage at legendary Robert’s Western World by bribing the band and doorman with cookies. She has since honed in her Honky-Tonk skills in double-wide trailers on Sunday nights, clubs across the south, and playing for ranchers and wranglers in Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado.