Ethos is an artist from Birmingham that used to perform under the name Lovelight the Messenger. Now, after a couple of years of silence, he has emerged under this new name with a brand new project that will firmly re-establish his presence, The City Wants You Alone.

On paper, The City Wants You Alone might not seem like much – just an eight-song release snuck in at the end of the year. Once you press play, however, you quickly see just how much more there is to this release. For one, Ethos expertly uses the time honored tradition of using voicemail to give you framing and connecting sketches to put the music in its proper context. And that context is different people in Ethos’s life checking in on him, making sure he’s okay, maybe trying to reconnect after a period of time of not seeing each other. This sets the stage for an emotionally charged release from Ethos, who expertly moves between rapping and singing, bringing in influences that range from R&B and gospel to trap to indie rock and everything in between. It’s an interesting mix of music, but it makes sense in the context of the album, because everything flows together and it all serves in the purpose of expressing these conflicted emotions that Ethos is trying to work through. This means that at one point you might get a little grit to the beat and Ethos’s voice as he raps about the racial and economic strains he feels living in his city, or when his depression might give way to anger at himself. It also means that at other points, he’ll be gently crooning and letting some jazz-influenced guitar lead the melody as he works through a relationship that’s been up and down. While there is a lot of raw honesty about Ethos’s struggles with mental health and there is plenty of space to explore these valid feelings, this is also an album that is about knowing that even if there’s just one or two people that you matter to, that can be enough, and if you take a step back every once in a while, you might recognize the beauty that was standing right next to the ugliness in life the whole time.

The City Wants You Alone is a bold reinvention as Ethos establishes a new name for himself. It’s emotionally and musically complex, it’s deeply personal, and just hits you in so many ways on so many different levels, you can keep going back and catching something new with each listen.