All music is storytelling. Even an instrumental melody can transport the listener into their imagination. But unlike prose, music seldom tells you what to imagine in a concrete, absolute way. It requires you to fill in the gaps — sometimes thin, sometimes wide.
Young Habitat’s debut EP In First Person Perspective, is a meditation on this idea.
“Though not all these stories are my own, I can only experience them through my own distorted lens, in first person perspective,” singer/producer/mastermind Riley Sbrana (also of Nearby Liars) says.
Sbarna and saxophonist Hayden Farr (Trash Cat, The Burroughs) are colleagues at the Music District in Fort Collins. The pair has long riffed about a potential musical collaboration, but the inspiration to finally follow through came from an unlikely source. When the pandemic struck, venues shuttered and the two musicians had more free time than they had in years. Seeking a new project to fill the void, Sbarna unearthed a collection of new and old ideas that hadn’t made it into his former band’s catalog. Then, he and Farr began trading the tracks back and forth, layer by layer. Young Habitat was born.
Though In First Person Perspective retains the emotional vulnerability of Sbrana’s previous work, the sonic landscape is a left turn from Nearby Liars. Sbrana’s understated vocals often devolve into heavily affected opacity. The instrumentation is reminiscent of lo-fi hip hop with frequent saxophone odysseys provided by Farr. It’s one part contemporary Bon Iver and one part Porches with a sprinkle of neo soul. It’s both melancholic and beautiful.
“I was feeling okay… then I stood up,” a pitch-shifted Sbrana croons over sparse reverb-soaked guitars and a minimal beat in “FATIGUE.” At least that’s what it sounds like he is saying. While the lyrics aren’t completely clear, the emotion is crystal. A deeply felt tiredness that is all too relatable after living through the past two years.
As the album unfolds, Sbarna meditates on coming of age away from home, radical self-care and self-doubt. Though the music is intimately produced, it’s never busy; each element placed with the utmost care.
In First Person Perspective by Young Habitat is out April 8 – pre-save at younghabitat.com and catch Young Habitat live at The Atrium for FoCoMX on April 22 at 8:30 pm. Tickets and more at focomx.focoma.org