Locals: Steven King records 'gentle' EP about thorny issues

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Though Steven King described his new EP,What We Needed, as a "gentle" record, it's far from an easy listen. Against a lush, folk- and Americana-tinged backdrop layered with warm piano and sweet, sighing cello, the singer and songwriter delves into a romantic relationship crumbling beneath the weight of addiction.

"Which one of your senses do you notice? ... And when they all fail how will you know this? If you're killing yourself a little on purpose?" he sings on "Don't Lose Your Mind," buoyed by jaunty acoustic strumming and melodic humming.

"That's a theme of the record: concern," said King, 22, who will celebrate the EP release with a concert at Rumba Café on Friday, Dec. 2. "It's a gentle record even though it deals with some heavy stuff. You don't want to talk to someone who's troubled, or has an addiction problem, in a way that would make them upset. You want to be nice and gentle and kind. And I thought about that while making the album."

Many of the EP's songs date back to early 2015 and are informed by a challenging year that included a mugging, a planned tour that imploded as it neared the finish line and the aforementioned relationship, which King relocated to Dayton to pursue before things started to unravel, finally coming to an inglorious end in September 2015. While King wrote continuously throughout this time, he had no plans to record until some friends in Dayton reached out and offered up studio time - a development that necessitated a return to the scene of his most recent heartbreak.

"When I went back to Dayton to record, it did feel different and it did feel strange. I used to really care about a person [when I lived there], and now I'm not with that person," said King, who currently makes his home in Licking County, a rural setting he credits with quieting "all the noise and craziness in my head." "But it was also the final nail in the coffin, like, 'That chapter is over.' To have [the record] done was like, 'Oh, now this is the world's. It's not mine and it's not this person's. It's everyone's.'

"This release is a huge sigh of relief … and I'm very optimistic about what's going to happen after this."

Rumba Café

8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

2507 Summit St., North Campus


ALSO PLAYING: Glenn Davis, Clemens & Co.