Through his new 5-song EP “How Far We’ve Come,” out Thursday, south suburban songwriter Larry Anthony is interested in starting a conversation. Partially about himself, but also about how his songs affect people.
In his music, Anthony strives to balance the presentation aspect — writing a good, catchy song — with the more visceral approach of how music can make you feel, a skill he was inspired to develop by his time working with Mark Rose, of the former Chicago pop-punk band Spitalfield.
Writing and playing with Rose taught him that sometimes the tale you tell is the spell you’re trying to weave.
“He did this thing not a lot of songwriters can do. He makes something that touches on the singer-songwriter element of telling your story but with a conscious and physical payoff,” he said. “Like I want to dance, but I also want to understand. He conveys a great story with music that is super danceable. And that’s kind of why I fell in love with that.”
Anthony’s EP tackles his own story; the title refers to his own life’s path listeners can find buried in the tracks. “Where music has taken me and how it’s come to be my job and how I got where I got,” he said. “Especially when you listen to it chronologically and get the full experience, understand the full context of the EP. I tried to make songs that are multidimensional: You can listen and just dance, or you can think about the lyrics and dig deep.”
The five songs reflect his varied interests and influences, paying tribute to R&B and soul, funk and dance artists within their pop-heavy structure, and through them he peels away layers of himself, sometimes revealing his own journey and other times the mindset that informs it.
“‘Midnight Memories’ sounds like it’s about going out and having a night on the town, but the song is about insomnia and depression and substance abuse,” he said. “All the songs are kind of like that. What may not be 100% factually true to my life kind of tells of the mistakes that I’ve made and the insecurities that I’ve had. I hope it moves your mind and your body. That’s kind of my goal.”
Through that transparency, Anthony’s objective is to be as genuine an artist as he can. He talks about aesthetics and high production, but his core intention is to keep his music personal, which can’t be an easy task when a lot of his work bends around other artists. In addition to his own new release, Anthony has been building a reputation writing with and for other musicians, including L.A. actor and singer Ian Thomas Nicholas (of “American Pie” and “Rookie of the Year”), whom Anthony often tours with. And through his Homelife Productions, he put a face on the recording and engineering work he’s been doing since studying music at Elmhurst College.
“I want people to feel like they know me. If I go somewhere and they want to chat, I absolutely want to talk to them,” he said. “I want to know not how do you think I was feeling when I wrote this song, but how did this make you feel? That’s the important thing to me. It doesn’t matter what I want you to think, but what reflection of yourself do you see in this? That’s the important thing to me, being able to connect with people in that way.”