What were you doing at 17? Probably not creating and releasing a beautiful collection of music like Cloe Wilder. 

The precocious indie folk singer-songwriter on the rise shared her new EP, I Spent My Summer on the Road, last week, five songs of aching emotions and heartfelt lyricism.

Wilder conjures pining paeans to love and romance, sounding wise beyond her years at every lyrical turn. After releasing her debut EP aged just 14, her latest record captures the ups and downs of the last three years of her young life.

And in many ways, I Spent My Summer on the Road feels like a second debut for its creator. “I put out my first EP out when I was 14, so I’m beyond excited for this new introduction,” Wilder shares. “These songs are really important to me, and I’ve loved being able to grow with them.”

Wilder worked with Grammy-nominated engineer Adam Grover (Maggie Lindemann, Dizzee Rascal; talk about wildly varied credits) on her new EP, and it really comes through on the crisp production. Whether she’s indulging in spirited bedroom pop, haunted folk, or yearning indie, each genre-hopping song sounds pristine, and proudly commercial ready.

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“Fake ID” is a highlight from the EP, thanks in no small part to its intensely relatable and youthful lyrics, but the standout track is “Afterglow”, which finds Wilder working with her longtime collaborator NICOLOSI.

“Escaping from locations is a big theme in my songs, but I also love the concept of leaving someone behind,” she says of the track’s meaning. “‘Afterglow’ sort of morphed into this story of two people growing apart in the wintertime; the understanding that the house has gone cold and there’s no way to imagine what that could feel like until it happens. I absolutely love that visual.”

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Such maturing songwriting is heard throughout Wilder’s EP, which promises much for the future. If this is the strength of her words at 17, you’re left thinking, what will her lyrics be like at 21, or 25, or 32? (Cast your mind back to Taylor Swift at the beginning of her shapeshifting career, and consider the sharpening of her songwriting over that time.)

Inspired by indie folk luminaries such as Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, there’s also a hint of the whispered confessionals of Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers in Wilder’s style. (Perhaps boygenius might seek out a fourth member one day.)

After listening to her honest coming-of-age scrapbook, Wilder will have a growing army of young fans wishing to spend the summer on the road with her soon enough. Vulnerable and relatable songwriting like hers always attracts an audience.

Cloe Wilder’s I Spent My Summer on the Road is out now. 

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