“Honest,” the opening salvo on Souther's debut EP Is for Lovers, begins with singer/guitarist Carly Fratianne expressing her desire to be more transparent. “I've done my best to be honest about the most important things,” she sings atop shuffling drums and fanged curls of guitar.

“Honest,” the opening salvo on Souther's debut EP Is for Lovers, begins with singer/guitarist Carly Fratianne expressing her desire to be more transparent. “I've done my best to be honest about the most important things,” she sings atop shuffling drums and fanged curls of guitar.

It's a pose she maintains throughout the recording's five songs, which, on the whole, are unflinchingly self-critical, detailing a depressive period where the musician's relationships and ambitions fizzled and she temporarily gave into her vices “all at once,” as she sings on “Honest.”

The songs on Is For Lovers date back to late 2015 and were written following a nearly three-year stretch when Fratianne, 22, pursued a music career in Los Angeles and Olympia, Washington before returning home to Westerville.

“I was pretty bummed out. I was kind of directionless and I wasn't working with anybody, so I set up a studio in my dad's house [in Westerville] and I was tossing out ideas very much about how I felt right then,” said Fratianne, who recorded every note of the EP on her own before forming a band roughly six months ago (these musicians will join the singer for a record release show at the Shrunken Head on Saturday, Jan. 21). “You go out there with high expectations for yourself and then [you return home and] you think, ‘Everyone's laughing at me. How can I ever atone for this kind of failure?'

“It's really just changing tides, which is something you don't think about until after you've given yourself a full thrashing. You decimate your ego and then it's like, ‘Oh, that's OK. This happens to everyone. It's totally fine. And you're better for it.'”

Fratianne moved to Los Angeles on a whim in December 2012, shortly after finishing high school at Westerville North, driven to relocate by some combination of “teenage angst and rebellion,” as she described it.

“I've always had this craving for adventure, and to this day I like to up and go somewhere. It's where my spirit thrives, in transit,” said the musician, who grew up taking frequent family vacations that were actually disguised weeks-long business trips for her father. “I felt compelled to go [to LA], so I did. I didn't know better to not.”

In Los Angeles, Fratianne worked on a never-completed album with a producer and did a fair amount of songwriting, but frequently spent more time enjoying the lifestyle than doggedly pursuing music as a career. “That's one drawback to LA: It's so much fun that you never get any work done,” she said.

So after spending nearly two years soaking in the sun, Fratianne swapped Van Nuys' beaches for the mountains of Olympia, purchasing a used Volvo off Craigslist for $1,000, tossing all of her belongings in the back and barreling toward Washington in the dead of winter — a perilous route that carried the musician directly over Mount Shasta. “I was driving up the mountain in this car like, ‘I hope this thing doesn't break down, because I don't have cell service,'” she said, and laughed. “But she held together.”

Even the change in scenery couldn't shake the growing sense of malaise eating away at the musician, however, and after nine months familiar questions started to arise.

“At the time I was thinking, ‘I need to get an actual job. I need to get a degree in something. I need to stop disappointing everyone around me,'” Fratianne said. “I was so gung ho about [pursuing a music career] that I didn't have a plan B. There was no, ‘What if I totally mess this up and I can't do it? What if I'm not actually good at this?' It was: This is what I'm doing or else. And then or else happened.

“At that point I was thinking, ‘I should just give up on this entirely,' but I didn't do that, obviously.”

Instead, she returned to Westerville equipped with life lessons absorbed during these travels and went about transforming the accumulated bumps into bruising music, emerging with a batch of heartfelt, affecting songs that sound as though they've been knocked around a bit and come out the other side all the richer for it. It's a feeling that Fratianne can finally identify with, given a bit of distance.

“Going out [to LA] and working with a producer gave me some really good insight into how the recording process works and how a song goes from an idea into a full thing, even down to how arrangements are written and what kinds of things are needed to bring depth into a piece,” said the musician, who penned her first songs at age 12, inspired by the emotional urgency she heard on Bright Eyes records. “I think I also learned a little something about time and how precious it is, which has led me to be a little more careful and sometimes a little more reckless. Oh, and I learned I'm a little tougher than I think I am. Just a little, anyway.”