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Ryan Van Slooten didn’t want his face on the cover of his new EP. Rather, he chose an album cover that spoke to its name. It is a stunning sunrise, a lake, and a pier walking out toward it. At the bottom, it reads “Be Free”.
Van Slooten released his new seven track EP on March 10, one week after performing at Beaner’s for Homegrown, and one week before opening for Frank Turner in Boston.
“I struggled for months and months and couldn’t find anything that fit,” said Van Slooten on titling his new EP. He chose to name it after the song he felt encapsulated the feeling of the song-ensamble. He wrote about “Be Free” on Facebook, “My favorite line in the song is, “Let go, you might find something, you didn’t even know you were looking for”, as it perfectly encapsulates the idea of the song, and the EP as a whole.”
“Be Free” begins will “Surface Water.” He uses the imagery of water moving through a river to describe his own feelings about moving out of a comfort zone, and searching for meaning.
“Surface water lyrically I’m really proud of,” he said.
Between the Stones is about giving all of yourself to someone. The guitar in the first verse excellently builds up to the chorus when the energy reaches its peak. This song is catchy, and really enjoyable to listen to.
“Between the Stones I’d say is the most interesting in the way it’s layered,” Van Slooten said. “Its got a funkier beat which is outside my comfort zone.”
He included an acoustic live version of “Be Free” as the EP’s last track. He said he recorded it live for a Youtube video from his children’s toy room.
Initially he planned to release a full album this spring, but found these seven songs fit together really well as simply as an EP.
“I realized it’s better to release an EP because of our attention spans and streaming music. These songs fit together. It was a nice complete picture,” he said.
Recently, Van Slooten was invited to play at Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings festival in Boston. Last summer he met Turner during a song-writing workshop camp in New York, which he found to be a life-changing experience. The festival was four days of shows with Turner headlining each night. The entire experience, he said, was surreal.
“I guess I made enough of an impression that after the camp we got a slot at Lost Evenings,” Van Slooten said.
“Be Free” he said is about opening yourself up to experiences around you, being present, freeing yourself, and getting over all your hang ups.
He is making plans to go on tour this Fall, and maybe even release another EP in November.