Stew & Heidi in Review

It’s a great time to get up close and personal with Stew & Heidi Rodewald. They’ll be on the Royce Hall stage March 9 with The Negro Problem for a rare full-band performance centered around their creative residency at UCLA in November and their new album, Making It, which has been getting rave reviews since its release in January. The album thematically chronicles the demise of Stew & Heidi’s romantic relationship. The duo’s ability to heal from the split was exacerbated by the fact that they still had to work together every day at the time, performing in the Tony-Award-winning musical Passing Strange.

It’s an amazing story of stress and success and interestingly enough, what came out of it is some of the pair’s best work to date.

Heidi was reluctant to even work on the album at first.

“I didn’t want to do this record,” she admits. But when she heard a bit of her own truth in the climactic track ‘Leave Believe,’ she says, “We decided that I should be involved.”

The new twist on the creative process, the raw exposing of their romantic life for album fodder, was personally challenging but ultimately gratifying for Heidi, a much more private person than Stew, who gave and took what he needed from it too.

“Stew said Making It was like his ‘therapy’ and I told him that therapy only works if you tell the truth.” The resulting song, “Therapy Only Works If You Tell The Truth” is as bare-naked as it is straight/no chaser rock ’n’ roll.

Music magazine Blurt says of Making It: “Musically Stew and Rodewald hit a new peak, deftly mixing the psychedelic pop that’s The Negro Problem’s usual stock-in-trade with the musical sophistication acquired from writing for Broadway. Lush melodies slow-dance with quirky textures and vice versa, each musical universe merging with the other.”

LA Times/KPCC music critic Ann Powers called the album “the Shoot Out The Lights of the slacker generation,” referring to Richard and Linda Thompson’s infamous post-breakup album. Listen to Powers review from “The Madeline Brand Show” here.

Stew and Heidi talk about their history, their music and the way both their hometown of Los Angeles and working in New York has affected their creative lives in a feature article in the March issue of Los Angeles Magazine, available on newsstands now.

And, read more about the he said/she said of Stew & Heidi’s fascinating stuck-together-breakup tale in this recent no-holds barred interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Hear Stew talk about the making of Making It, and reflect on his creative approach to life in this recent interview with NPR’s Terry Gross.