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Space4Lease's new EP Hiraeth is a journey of self-discovery



Hiraeth is a Welsh word with no direct English translation.

In a way, it can be taken to mean “homesickness,” but for a home that one can never return to. It’s the feeling of longing for something that is lost or gone, or perhaps something that never even was.

Hiraeth is also the name of the new EP from Oklahoma City indie rock four-piece Space4Lease. It’s hard to place the project, or the band in general, in any specific genre, and that’s the way the bandmates like it. Characterized by soulful vocals, introspective lyrics, dramatic keys and punchy melodies, the five-track offering is diverse in its range. Listeners might spot influences from bands like My Morning Jacket and Coldplay.

Vocalist and principal songwriter Grayson Hamm wrote some of the material while living in Edmond and attending the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO). At the school, he met guitarist Walt Blythe, bassist Brandon Brewer and drummer Wes Belk.

As many students can relate, Hamm said he went through a self-discovery period during his early years in college. He lived alone and kept himself occupied by writing songs that would later make up the EP. Some days, he spent all his time writing.

However, the Hiraeth concept solidified after he met his bandmates. Hamm credits Belk for its title. It took a word from outside the English language to describe how Hamm, and many other people that age, felt.

“All of these questions start coming up,” Hamm said. “I think it happens with everybody in different ways. At that point in time, songwriting for me was almost a way of questioning who I was, what the world is, who do I want to become, who do I want to be.”

An example of this existential quest is found on standout opening track “Holding on to Hope,” an anthem for preserving oneself in a time of great uncertainty.

“You’re searching for something, but you don’t really know what it is yet,” he said. “All that you know is you’re searching.”

The EP took about 10 months to develop. Space4Lease took its time and sought advice from ACM staffers like professional musician Derek Brown and composer and producer Patrick Conlon.

Blythe wanted the EP to be a smart, professional introduction loaded with songs that define the band. In a way, Hiraeth is a sampler of everything Space4Lease can be.

“I think it would be good to let people know from the get-go we’re not honed in on one exact thing,” Blythe said. “A lot of times, that can kill a band, or it just makes it more difficult for them when they do try to expand.”

Hamm might have written some lyrics in isolation, but his creative process becomes more collaborative and intricate as the band works together. They share a broad range of music influences, and that scope deepens their sound.

“That’s one thing I feel like we’re really good at: letting songs be themselves and not really pushing it,” Belk said. “When it happens then it happens, and it’s great.”

Space4Lease already has new music it’s waiting to release. As always, though, it is in no rush. For now, the quartet is focused on touring the country and promoting the EP.

“It’s taken time, and our limits have been tested a little bit,” Brewer said, “but I think it’s been good for us all around.”

Print headline: Space voyage, Space4Lease’s latest EP is a journey for self-discovery and an expanded national audience.

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