It’s been a while since we’ve heard from local singer-songwriter Jared Mees. Understandably so, too, as he’s had a child to help raise and has been busy turning Tender Loving Empire from a small record label into a multi-location business for some of the best music and goods from around the world.

Was the wait worth it? You’re damn right it was. The latest album from Mees, Life Is Long, shows a marked growth in his songwriting and performance. The charming agitation that he brought to his previous LPs with his former backing band The Grown Children is gone. He now sounds more relaxed and confident in his singing and lyrics. Just take a listen to the title track from this new album—which you can pre-order here—and enjoy his metaphorical genius and the gentle ease he brings to an incessantly hooky vocal melody. Let this be the song of spring 2017!