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Standout Track: No. 3, “As You Can,” which swims through enormous open guitar chords while songwriter Jessica Dye belts à la Neko Case. The song wouldn’t be out of place alongside Bloodshot Records’ outlaw country roster. It’s a professional-sounding track that Dye composed quicker than you might think. “That was one of the first songs I ever wrote,” she says. In fact, she wrote most of the EP’s six tracks “within the first three weeks of having a guitar…but they took about two years to become the best versions they could be.”

Musical Motivation: The tracks come from a heavier time. “I was doing a lot of reading about controlled hopelessness,” says Dye. “I read this study about scientists in the 1930s. They were taking mice and dropping them into a bucket of water.” If that sounds cruel, it gets worse. “Animal instinct is to swim until you absolutely exhaust yourself and drown. The scientists would scoop the mice out at the last possible moment before they drowned, and they did this over and over, and eventually they added weights to the mice’s feet,” says Dye. After a while, the mice just gave up. “They would get into the water without the weights on, willingly sink to the bottom, and wait to die or be pulled out.” That scenario is channeled through lyrics like “diving into the deep” and “waiting for something to happen.”

Lighter Feet: Like so many songwriters before her, Dye first picked up a guitar after a rough breakup. “I felt like the mouse being put into the bucket of water by different men,” she says. Writing music helped pull her out of it. “It’s totally therapeutic,” she explains. “I joke with my bandmates that the last couple months I’ve been struggling to write new material because I’ve been too happy.”