Ears Wide Open: Appleby

today08/17/2021 3

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Appleby crafts laid-back ballads with tasteful production, big heart and airy vocals — electronic pop-soul that’s a whisper to the genre’s oppressive roar.

The L.A.-based singer-songwriter hails from suburban Chicago, where he spent much of his youth as a tennis prodigy, competing internationally before burnout set in and he gave up the sport at age 17. He turned to music, working anonymously at first and eventually gaining wide acclaim (and comparisons to the Weeknd) for his seven-track mini-album “Happiness” in 2018. In fact, the artist, born Justin LaRoy Burns, was well into his career before anyone beyond his mother (her maiden name is Appleby) knew who was behind the music.

“While You Were Sleeping” is the 29-year-old’s new EP, anchored by the propulsive single “Enough” and spiraling beautifully through the sci-fi throb of “Heavy Metal Spaceship” and the painful memories of “Navy Blue.”

“The birth of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ came during a three-week trip apart from the girl I love,” Appleby says of the release. “I was back home in Elgin, Ill., staying in the bedroom I wrote my first songs in, while she was in Jamestown, R.I., visiting family. Nearly every night we’d FaceTime till sunrise then say our goodbyes in the a.m. Halfway through my trip I began muting myself while she slept. The first song I made was ‘You’re My Home.’ I was obsessed with how warm and nostalgic it felt. The next evening I wrote ‘Enough,’ and when I said good morning to my girlfriend the next day I knew those two songs were the beginning of my next EP.”

In addition to his own exploits, Appleby has a feature on Pell’s forthcoming album, “Floating While Dreaming II.”

||| Stream: “Enough” and “You’re My Home”

||| Also: Stream “While You Were Sleeping” in its entirety

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