Xander Marsden has released his debut, self-titled EP today through MAKE Records, produced by Billy Mohler (Macy Gray, Kelly Clarkson, Liz Phair).
The 5-song EP is filled with lyrical empathy and relatable teen nostalgia from the 15-year-old songwriter, kicking off with the first single “Sara Bellum.” “Town Sleep” follows, capturing the feelings of being trapped and looking to escape life. While “Pass By” explores the shy tenderness of early love. The EP concludes with the self-affirming, “Hello Man” and a cover of The Smithereens’ fervently yearning “Blood and Roses.”
Discussing his debut record, Marsden says, “the social environment that I was in changed a lot, and those changes exhibited themselves in these songs. With that kind of change comes new emotions, new ideas and new perspectives, so I was excited to see where those ideas would take me.”
Starting out with piano lessons at the age of 6, he quickly switched to guitar under the influence of powerhouse axemen like Slash and Eddie Van Halen. A blues undercurrent took root through listening to the likes of Jimmy Page and Gary Moore, and a hint of jazz complexity through studies of greats like Joe Pass. The pitfalls of the child prodigy – empty virtuosity, a career ended by adulthood – lurked not far away, but somehow Marsden tapped into an inner well of emotional expression and an urgent need to share it through his music.
Marsden, raised on raucous blues and 80s hard rock makes the EP’s evocative, insinuating songcraft all the more remarkable. By his early teens he’d been rewarded with multiple Student Music Awards from the renowned DownBeat Magazine.
“I discovered that songwriting felt so much more creative and rewarding than just playing guitar,” he explains. “I really wanted to express myself, and I found that a simple song can affect someone so much.”
1. Town Sleep
2. Sara Bellum
3. Pass By
4. Hello Man
5. Blood and Roses (The Smithereens Cover)
Adriana Chavez is the editor for Vacancy. Email: email@example.com