Back in 2011, acoustic singer/songwriter Andrew Koji Shiraki entered Studio 4 with Will Yip to record some initial demos that are finally coming to light. As Koji traveled and toured with numerous artists like Into it. Over it. and Slingshot Dakota, Yip fleshed out these pieces into what we hear on Matters – another release of his punk-influenced acoustic rock that addresses deep topics.

Opening with “Hemlock,” Koji explores the changing of the seasons and himself. With comforting riffs, Koji passionately sings “I don’t know what this new season will bring…I’m a different man that I was one year before.” He continues his travels through his mind in the next song, “Like We Do,” where we hear him come to the realization that they can move on. Going through the turmoil of of an unfixable relationship, Koji completes this track by yearning for an answer, which he softly, and somewhat somberly, answers himself: “We will be fine after this / but the only question now is where are we to go?”

Throughout the entire EP, we hear pleasant riffs that accompany the ideas explored in the lyrics. While there are tough topics, Koji does a fantastic job of keeping the mood upbeat and though provoking. This is most well done in “Matters (of the Heart and Mind),” where he longs for more answers, saying “I want to know and I don’t  / Who decides these things / matters of the heart and mind?” This song, and a few others, incorporate violins to create desperate yet hopeful feeling. Koji’s voice is astounding, unique, and leads you though each song in storytelling fashion.

Exploring issues isn’t surprising to hear from Koji, as he has shown a love for traveling everywhere. While his music leads him around the world, it is obvious that he is much more relateable when he travels within himself for lyrical inspiration. Matters is evidence that it is possible to make in-depth music with only a guitar, a voice, and something worth singing about.

Stream the EP below, or download it for $2 via bandcamp.