On June 9th, NYC songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lee Meadvin quietly released his Waking Up EP. Co-engineered and co-produced by Meadvin’s collaborator Eli Goss, the genre bending record is a true statement of individuality. The EP also features guest appearances by Tommy Goodkin on vocals and Connor Parks on drums. Promoted only by a few isolated Facebook posts by those close to Meadvin (he doesn’t have social media) and word of mouth, I’m of the opinion that these songs deserve a little more love from the college music audience, which is why I’ve deiced to tackle them here in this article.
Released just weeks after Meadvin completed his junior year as a Jazz Studies major at NYU, the EP is perhaps more evocative of the unforgiving winter months in New York during which the collection was written and recorded. With references to feedback loops, aged whiskey and fairy tale characters, Meadvin’s lyrics seem preoccupied with that which is repetitive or, similarly, that which remains present as time passes. There is irony in the observation that there are very few refrains or repeated sections in the lyrics themselves. Meadvin performs most of the non-percussive sounds on the EP and even tasked himself with singing lead vocals on six of the seven tracks. Those who know him might be surprised to hear that Meadvin’s studied guitar playing actually takes a backseat to his singing and synth programming at times.
Though each song is deserving of focused listening in its own right, the most accessible entry point on the EP is ‘Drink Coffee’ which gives way to the penultimate track ‘First Crisis, Second Crisis.’ In Drink Coffee, Meadvin reckons with his own mortality while alluding to the regularly self-prescribed remedy for existential issues: drinking coffee. The lyrical theme carries into First Crisis, Second Crisis though Meadvin’s rounded guitar and bass playing is replaced with his attempts at synthesizer and piano. Meadvin’s boyish voice delivers Crisis shyly with a cadence that is seemingly unconcerned but not unaware.
The EP’s melodic and lyrical peaks come on its first track. Set at no tempo, the through-composed lyrics to ‘Waking Up’ sit atop a brooding melody making its way through dense harmony. However, the precision of the composition seems unappreciated by the orchestration. Commendable songwriting falls victim to somewhat unadventurous instrumental and vocal interpretations. This seems to be the case with several tracks on the EP. By the EP’s final track, Meadvin’s voice and synth playing feel exhausted to the point where the listener might be more inclined to doze off rather than wake up.
It’s possible that Meadvin was aware of this during post-production as we can appreciate the placement of ‘Chinatown Is For Lovers,’ consisting only of voice and acoustic guitar, dead center in the EP as an attempt to break up the full band tracks. Granted, Meadvin did produce the record with no budget while studying full time and juggling numerous other projects, and that in and of itself is a worthy feat.
You can stream the album on Lee’s bandcamp, but God help you if you want to follow him on social media. This has been a guest post by Dan Hemerlein, bassist of NYC band Modern Diet – see more of his work on his website!