A childhood in Los Angeles, a corporate job in Texas, a teaching gig in China.
In retrospect, Savannah Lancaster sees all of these decidedly varied experiences as side roads along her inevitable path to a career in music. With the release of her EP Intangible, Lancaster has finally committed to her passion with a collection of introspective ballads that explore the soulful wilderness between Nashville Americana and jazz-soaked indie rock.
Although Lancaster began singing and writing songs as a kid, she never seriously considered a career in music. After earning a degree in Asian Studies, she taught in China for a year before taking a corporate marketing job in Texas, a period she articulates in the single Everywhere I Go:
“Wasted so much time / wishing for a different life / moving to greener grass / never stopping to ask / who or what I’m running to or from.”
But Lancaster’s drive for creative expression never left her, and eventually she quit her corporate job and made her way back to Los Angeles in search of a more art-based community. There, at the height of the pandemic, a friend connected her with producer DJ Platurn. Although they never met in person, the duo decided to collaborate on a breakout recording project they called Sundur.
In 2021, Sundur released their debut album Somewhere There’s Music, and things began to move quickly. The album’s first single, To The Top, attracted the attention of KCRW’s Aaron Byrd, who added it to his “Best New Music” playlist, blasting it over the airwaves along with established artists like Massive Attack and Snoh Aalegra. Byrd’s fellow KCRW hosts Travis Holcombe and Anthony Valadez also took notice of Sundur and added two more songs from the album to their shows, one of which is the popular “Morning Becomes Eclectic” playlist. Somewhere There’s Music also landed on KCRW’s “Top 30 Albums” chart alongside artists such as St. Vincent, Leon Bridges, Tokimonsta, and The Black Keys. The film industry took notice as well, and within weeks, Sundur landed a synch deal for To the Top, which was subsequently featured in the Netflix movie Night Teeth.
This sudden success inspired Lancaster to go all-in on her music career.
“I was working on that project in the midst of the pandemic, which quite literally grounded me,” she says. “But it also gave me the time and space to think about what I actually wanted to do, and at some point, a switch just flipped, and I knew that it was time to commit.”
So Lancaster decided to make one more big move: to Nashville, where the populace lives and breathes music, and where she felt she could best position herself to pursue her dream. In Nashville, Lancaster has spent the past year recording her own music with virtuoso producer and engineer Kyle Henderson, who cut his teeth as the singer and lead guitarist of indie rock band Desert Noises.
The result is Intangible, a project that explores that which cannot be seen or touched.
“The songs on the EP are about universal human experiences of love and loss, grief and acceptance and, most importantly, forgiveness and gratitude,” she says. In many ways, the release of Intangible marks Lancaster’s own personal victory over self-doubt.
The tracks are anchored by the powerful and perfectly synchronized playing of Desert Noises band members Brennan Allen Lethbridge on drums and Tyler Osmond on bass, with Henderson leading on guitar and piano as well as production. The music is enhanced by the lush string arrangements of Stockholm-based Diederik van Wassenaer, as well as the dreamy pedal steel and jazzy hollowbody guitar flourishes of Nashville-based Sam Wilson.
Under Henderson’s eye, the work of these master practitioners converges impeccably throughout the record, each lending himself to a roundly crafted instrumentation that manages to frame Lancaster’s unique voice without overpowering it.
It is that voice, consistently suffused with emotion and nuance, that remains front-and-center throughout Intangible, putting Lancaster’s confidence and her vulnerability on equal footing, making it hard to imagine that she would do anything other than pursue a career in music, and promising to make legions of music-lovers very glad that she did.