Ezra Furman's show at Savannah Stopover will be a rare solo showcase for the tenured rock 'n' roller who's in the midst of a musical transition.
The gender-fluid Chicago-based songwriter has performed with a full band, The Boyfriends, for about six years and before that with Ezra Furman and the Harpoons since 2006, the latter of which released four studio albums.
Active since the early 2000s, Furman played primarily as a solo artist for years before working with a band. The performer's indie rock/folk-soaked, Lou Reed-style rock 'n' roll has garnered national attention and catapulted Furman into a full-time career as a musician.
The solo show at Savannah Stopover will be a scarce performance without a band and comes in the midst of a clandestine re-engineering of the artist's music.
"Well, this is sort of an unusual solo show that I am doing in Savannah," Furman said. "Most of the time I am playing as a band. I'll be sticking my head out of a dark studio into the sunlight for a second to play this show. Or moonlight, I guess."
Backed by The Boyfriends, Furman released a score of new music recently. In 2015, they dropped "Perpetual Motion People," followed the next year by two EPs, "Songs By Others" and "Big Fugitive Life."
"Big Fugitive Life" takes the shape of Furman's Buzzcocks and Velvet Underground influences, carrying on an unflinching aesthetic of broaching poignant subjects head-on - identity, socio-economic status - all underlined by a metaphorical approach to talking about love. Speaking of the EP in a press release, Furman called it the "end of a chapter, musically. A beautiful, insane chapter."
"The next chapter is being written," Furman told Do Savannah. "Don't want to say too much about it before it's fully written. This show in Savannah, this is coming at a sort of transitional time. We are just starting to work on new music. We're doing it in a different way. We're doing it a lot slower, so I am not saying anything is coming out any time soon, or even close to soon.
"At some point, you start thinking, well I got the chance to be a musician with a real audience and this is my job. I can't rush this."
Getting out of the comfortable harbor of a full band gives some of the work a rare spotlight and showcases skills that perhaps lay dormant in working with a band.
"It's a chance to play a few songs that the band doesn't normally play because they sound better as a more quieter thing," Furman said. "I have a lot of these songs and they don't get let out of their cage as often. You have to let them stretch their muscles.
"Songs are like pets. Pets I abuse and keep locked up for months on end. I am just going to present my best. I don't discriminate: old songs, new songs. Just whatever is the best."
Furman's musical influences run deep and vast, but there are several "bedrocks" to pinpoint. The Buzzcocks' "Singles Going Steady" compilation, and Lou Reed in general.
"Most people have their bedrock; what the first thing they think of when they think of good music, or the first few things," Furman said. "It's the journey of a lifetime to expand on that."
Early in life, Furman thought about becoming a fiction writer. Although the musician still does a fair amount of creative writing, songwriting turned out to be a shorter and more satisfying way of expression.
Furman's admiration for Reed has not only helped define and shape the music, but is now being translated in a new creative writing project for the 30-year-old. Furman pitched 33 1/3 the idea of a book on Lou Reed's "Transformer" album, and the project was accepted.
In reference to the speed of a vinyl LP, 33 1/3 is a series of well over 100 books, originally published by Continuum, each one focusing on a single album and written by a different author. In the fray of volumes, books have been written about albums encompassing a wide array of music, from Gang of Four to AC/DC, Johnny Cash, Dinosaur Jr. and Aretha Franklin.
"I got an idea to write about Lou Reed's 'Transformer,'" Furman said. "Which is by no means my favorite album, or even my favorite Lou Reed album, but I find it particularly fascinating. I have something to say about it.
"He's a towering figure. I am in his tradition and under his spell for life."
Midnight March 9
El-Rocko Lounge, 117 Whitaker St.