It can be difficult for an artist to intertwine political stances into music without alienating some fans, but Venice Beach songstress Evalyn pulls it off in her latest unplugged Sandcastle (Stripped) EP. Charged socio-political events and climates are known to influence artists throughout history, and in our modern age, the self-described “wine-stained pop” artist Evalyn is rising to the forefront as a bold voice driven to create by the events unfolding around her.
Stripping back production on her five original songs released Oct. 27 on the first version of her Sandcastle EP, Evalyn takes these close-to-home songs to the next level with lush, dramatic arrangements, in a way so powerful and moving. Breathing new life into the now mostly solo-guitar, piano, and orchestral-heavy tracks (produced by Rockwell Sands), the impressive rising talent sings with a captivating, raw grit in her voice, up front and very present in the mix. It is clear that she doesn’t shy away from either the microphone or polarizing topics, and this combination serves as a great strength and testament to her genuine artistry, highlighting her incredibly poignant lyricism.
Artfully, Evalyn expresses the duality of hopelessness and optimism she experiences alongside many other young people, restless during these uncertain times of political turmoil and scandal within our country. She conveys current prevalent attitudes on “Cherry Lambo” with lines like, “Got debt that we owe / fuck what we know / American Dreams aren’t cheap / If you got high hopes / but still feel low / then baby, you’re just like me.” Taking things a step further on “Trump,” Evalyn satirizes her generation’s juxtaposed social activism and political apathy, summarizing in the chorus with a blistering, “I’m a bit too stoned to change the world.”
Evalyn revealed more about her motivations behind the collection of powerful songs:
“The ‘Sandcastle’ EP is a statement about my millennial peers and the angst that both unites and divides us. We’re all comparing notes and panicking, and then acting like we’re the bomb on the internet – only to repeat the cycle. I’m scared that it makes us all so apathetic in the end. The lines are blurred between Instagram and reality, Twitter fingers and trigger fingers.”
Yet the honest songwriter doesn’t fail to acknowledge the relationship troubles and internal battles that still plague us all on a personal level even amidst this chaotic atmosphere, especially on songs like “Filthy Rich” and “Rather Be Dead.” Alluding to the effects of greed and isolation in “Filthy Rich,” she sings, “I get high with the spotlight on / Baby when the crowd goes home / I’m all alone and I’ve got no one,” with further references to Wall Street, popping pills, Maseratis, and celebrity culture throughout.
“Ride or Die” is the ballad on Sandcastle, still connected thematically to the rest of the EP by its use of rich imagery and strong vocals. Evalyn has shared that the song “breaks [her] heart all over again” every time she performs. Emotion builds with the lead piano line and stirring strings, evoking comparisons to Lana Del Rey or Halsey in terms of lyrical themes and mental images: “Some nights I think of us / Red velvet kind of lust / That roulette trust / What ever happened to ride or die, baby?”
The promising songstress recently performed on Nov. 27 in Hollywood at The Bardot for the weekly hallmark It’s a School Night. She must be a sight to witness live, and those who are lucky to encounter her will likely receive some wisdom similar to her parallel descriptions of her latest EP and the repercussions of the 2016 U.S. election:
“You can make sandcastles as big and solid and sexy as you want, but because of what they’re made of, they’re going to fall apart. I watched something I once had such faith in disintegrate and that’s because there are 323 million grains of sands in this analogy and they all seem to be overexposed and unwilling to combine forces.”
Don’t be afraid to get fired up as you delve into the mind and message of the bold Southern California native - take a listen to Evalyn’s stripped down Sandcastle EP below: