Evil is a country music artist on his own terms

Sometimes a song seems prophetic when it really is timeless. That’s the case with “Young American,” a sweet, country-sounding strummer from DMV native Evil. In a dreamy croon, Evil sings that he’s “desensitized” and “ready to die,” and the chorus is not a rousing call to action, but a call for resignation: “Young American / Put your fists down / “Because you can” double.”

Written around 2017 and released in 2019, “Young American” seems to announce the wave of protests that would sweep the United States in 2020, crystallized by the police killing of George Floyd. For two years, the demonstrations have multiplied, whether following acts of violence committed by firearms or by judicial decision. But after two long years of conflict, the energy of 2020 has turned to exhaustion. “Young American” sounds like the anti-protest anthem of the day.

“It’s definitely something that I think turns out to be a lot more relevant than I would have liked,” says Evil.

In the years since the release of “Young American,” Evil has stayed busy, building on the stripped-back country of their self-titled debut album with songs that shimmer with orchestral flourishes, auto-tuned vocals, and gurgling electronic beats. . Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, Evil is a country artist in his own right at a time when many artists are challenging stereotypes and expectations of how country artists look and sound.

“When I think about my music, I just think about where it came from and what made me the person I am,” says Evil. “It’s just about our experiences and how the places we’ve lived and the people there have shaped us. … It’s really just for me to expand on what we think a rural life can be.

One of those experiences was growing up in a “heavy church-laden” South as a queer trans person, a fact that Evil grapples with in “The Second Death,” a live rock opera that will make its Black Cat debut in August. The half-play, half-concert five-act acts as a capsule of Evil’s thoughts on religion and God, for better and for worse. A rock opera seemed like a dramatically fitting way to share their story.

“I wanted an opportunity to express that thoroughly and show everyone what it’s supposed to be, and then when you take it and make it your own thing, it’s entirely your opinion,” says Evil. “I thought the best way to do it was to put it in front of people’s faces.”

Playing with Shamir on July 22 at 7 p.m. at Songbyrd, 540 Penn St. NE. songbyrddc.com $17 to $20. “Evil: The Second Death” August 20 at 8 p.m. at The Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. blackcatdc.com. $15. Proof of coronavirus vaccination required for both shows.