Caleb Hearn Lets You into His World with '1200 sq ft' [EP Review]

Kieran Kohorst

When pressing play on a new artist, it can be difficult to know who you’re preparing to meet: a stage name or the true person behind the music. When you press play on Caleb Hearn, these identities are one and the same. In fact, after just one listen to Hearn’s 1200 sq ft EP, it’s hard not to feel like you know him personally. Even loyal fans will likely be surprised by the direction of his latest work, pivoting inward from past tales of heartbreak to personal recollections of the most defining aspects of Hearn’s story. Born in North Carolina, the 22-year-old moves with a rare maturity through 1200 sq ft, capitalizing on the outwardly-obvious potential displayed on past releases. He seems comfortable with being uncomfortable, weaponizing vulnerability as a defense mechanism to introspection. “I deeply feel that these songs cohesively represent that story -- from my upbringing to the person I am today,” says Hearn.

As should be the case in such a personal project, every aspect of 1200 sq ft is intentional and representative of Hearn’s message. “I love the sonic direction we took with this EP. Having an acoustic guitar at the forefront of every single song feels genuinely right for the message being told,” shares Hearn. “I wanted an organic sound, real instruments, drums, piano, guitar, all of it. This was by far my favorite project to put together.” Holding the music together is Hearn’s sturdy voice, one that’s meant for storytelling. His sincerity lends itself to trustworthiness and his melody to relatability, even in the project's most intimate moments. The shining example of such a moment is title track “1200 sq ft,” a lucid reflection of Hearn’s childhood home littered with imagery and sentimentality. The track is further imagined in a music video, one that presented a unique challenge for Hearn. “Since the song is completely based on my childhood home, it had to be perfect. We found the perfect little house in the mountains of California. It had so much character and the layout was so like my childhood home in North Carolina.” Follow-up track “1 day you will” serves as a message in a bottle floating counterintuitively upstream, traveling backward to reach his younger self. The EP concludes with an ode to his grandmother (“1/2 as good as her”) and the love-is-never-lost mentality of “1000 reasons,” closing the book on the most autobiographical chapter of Hearn’s career so far. 

As he continues to tell his own story, Caleb Hearn writes his realities by reveling in his past, finding strength and guidance in the most fundamental principles of his life. As far as what the future will hold, Hearn will support Ron Pope and Lydia Luce in both Atlanta and Nashville on June 2nd and 3rd, respectively. 1200 sq ft is the perfect response to the prompt of “Who is Caleb Hearn?,” a swift, formal introduction that is authentic to no fault.

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