Succinct and sweet, EPs can offer invaluable snapshots into an artist’s sound. Regrettably, they’re sometimes dismissed by fans as throwaways that were unable to find a place on a full-length recording. Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to come across some beautiful EPs that offer the same emotional heft you’d expect from an LP. Distinguished by incisive songwriting and crisp production, here’s a brief primer to three EPs worth adding to your collection.
Artist: Allie Farris
Place of residence: Nashville
Other Recordings: Songs Written Upside Down, All You Can Eat, You Make Me Smile
Sound: Lush piano-driven pop with a jazzy twist
Personal favorites: “Talk To Me”, “Better Than Never”, “Other Side”
Most importantly: Equally at ease delivering a romantic ballad or a rhythmic anthem, Farris is an intelligent songstress who fearlessly displays the inner workings of her heart. Her on-stage and recorded collaborations prove that she plays well with others, but her own voice is equally potent.
Upcoming project: A full-length live CD recorded by producer Gus Berry and touring
Artist: Sam Outlaw
Is that his real name? Yes. Outlaw is his mother’s maiden name.
Place of residence: Los Angeles
Other Recordings: Nobody Loves
Sound: Stately California country
Not-so-secret weapon(s): Molly Jenson‘s knock-out harmony vocals, the adorable kids who star in his latest video (see below)
Personal favorites: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink (And Fall In Love)”, “Something That I Gotta Do”, “Ghost Town”
Most importantly: Outlaw reverently mines the same fertile traditional ground that gave rise to country greats of the past without falling into the “throwback” label. Timeless themes with a modern edge offer a lyrical salve for the jaded that multiple generations can appreciate.
Upcoming project: Touring, including an appearance on Music City Roots
Artist: Tyler Lyle
Place of residence: Santa Monica
Other Recordings: Bad Things (& Collard Greens), Inland Islands, Notes From The Parade, The Golden Age & The Silver Girl, Expatriates
Sound: Eclectic, atmospheric folk-rock
Not-so-secret weapon: General awesomeness. Oh, something more specific? An unflinching eye for detail.
Personal favorites: “A Song To Sing”, “Young Men”, “Ditchdigger”
Most importantly: While Lyle’s songs are strewn with sage observations and allusions, he never distances himself from his audience in the role of an omniscient narrator. Instead, he beckons listeners closer, mirrors their own hopes and fears, and releases them into the world refreshed and renewed.
Upcoming project: Recording a new full-length record, Hotel Cafe residency, and touring
Updated on March 7, 2015: Allie Farris released her full-length album Live in Nashville in February of 2015. Sam Outlaw will release his album Angeleno, produced by Ry Cooder and Joachim Cooder, on Six Shooter Records on June 9, 2015. Tyler Lyle is currently working on releasing his album The Native Genius of Desert Plants via Pledgemusic.