(a)round EP, self-released
Ryan Lee has been a stalwart on the commonwealth music scene for years, performing with local acts like Free Union, Will Overman, and Erin & the Wildfire, among others. The VCU graduate began crafting his solo debut, (a)round EP, in the wake of COVID-19. With time away from touring, Lee was able to flesh out his own artistic vision—one that is both introspective and existential. On “the day (turn around),” he sings, “the day a week felt like a month,” using wordplay and explorations of our understanding of time to convey a feeling that’s been all too familiar in 2020. These universal themes are prevalent throughout the EP’s five tracks, projected across a synth-laden sonic landscape replete with airy guitar lines and keys. For fans of electro-pop, Sufjan Stevens, and David Bowie, this is a must-listen (released November 13).
Call Me Elsewhere, self-released
After graduating from the University of Virginia last year, Charlottesville native Molly Murphy relocated to New York City. Her debut EP was born out of this transition, serving as a meditation on adulthood—what it means to come into one’s own, to settle into a sense of self and a sense of place. Call Me Elsewhere’s five tracks rely heavily on location: They were written on porches and gravel roads in Virginia and in cramped apartments and subway trains in New York. After recording in closets and bedrooms in both states, Murphy opted to produce and mix the EP herself. This DIY approach led to a level of reflection and intimacy that draws the listener in. The atmospheric track “Candles,” for instance, opens with the strike of a match. Other songs name-check familiar spots: “Sugar Hollow” refers to the nearby swimming hole, while “Harrison Street” and “Pearl Street Creek” are odes to her new home in the Big Apple. During a time when we are constantly bombarded with information, Call Me Elsewhere lifts us out of fatigue, even if just for a little while (released November 20).
Mitchel Evan, self-released
Richmond singer-songwriter Mitchel Evan spent some time in Colorado honing his chops before moving back to Virginia, giving him a wealth of cross-country experience to draw on for his upcoming self-titled album, recorded with his backing band, The Saboteurs, at Richmond’s Go West Studio. With Evan on lead vocals, guitar, and harmonica, the offering also features Daniel Stein (guitar, drums, keyboards, pedal steel), Martinus Van Peppen (bass), Spencer Conroy (violin), and Blake Smoral (harmony vocals). Lead single “Band Aid” is an alt-country romp boasting a chorus that begs to be sung along to, outlining the pain of a lost love. Follow-up track, “Leeches,” is a story of enticement driven by a seductive violin. For Americana fans, Mitchel Evan is a release to watch for in the new year (due out in January).