Los Angeles singer-songwriter Erin Waters, with her distinctive voice and ear for melody, is able to bring something fresh to the music table. Her unique songs fit well with thoughtful and empowering lyrics, like in 'Layer by Layer:' you were built like a battleship/but even when you sink, you catch the missiles with your teeth/you're stronger than you think. Self-taught on the piano and guitar, she brought home her first acoustic guitar just after her fourteenth birthday. She bought a piano - which now sits in her bedroom - a year later, and wrote her first song at sixteen. Soon thereafter, she was planning her debut album. She is now eighteen, has recorded two full-length albums, performed live throughout California, started her own record label and production company, and has well over a hundred original songs under her belt. 'I spent a lot of time in the studio in 2000. I made an album that taught me a lot about the recording process, but it wasn't a very accurate showcase of what was going on inside me musically. I didn't push myself hard enough during those recording sessions, so I didn't release that collection of songs.' Instead, Waters kept writing songs and poetry and recording demos with the 4-track in her bedroom for the remainder of 2000 and into early 2001. Fusing folk, jazz, pop, and rock gives Waters her urban-yet-earthy sound. As you listen to her forthcoming debut album, Project Life, from beginning to end, you are left wondering where she might take you next. Although each song is different from any other on the album, as a whole, the collection is a striking portrait of friendship, love, solitude, sarcasm, and introspection - the true colors of today's youth. Waters says the individuality of each song is what makes this album so unique. 'There are times in my life that I want to just say, 'to hell with it all!' and then there are times that I want to lay down in the fetal position on my bedroom floor, crying. I wanted to record each song in such a way that I could restore that feeling I had when I wrote it, whether it was desperation or optimism or indifference. That emotional turmoil is a very real thing.' Through such turmoil, Waters found refuge in poetry. At age nine, after she won a school district award for her poem 'Loneliness,' she began to see poetry in a new light. By age ten, she was keeping a journal, and seriously writing poetry by thirteen. Now, many of her poems - focusing on intrapersonal relationships and human behavior - are turned into songs, massaged and re-written to fit a new melody. 'The best songs I've written, in my opinion, came from poems. There's something to be said about that. I think when it comes to writing poems, I'm more focused on feeling, less focused on rhyme and meter. Those restraints are always on my mind when I'm writing something fresh. When I take a poem I've already written, there's this raw truth in it that I can't get from writing words on top of a melody. It's too structured that way.' Though songwriting is most dear to her, Waters pursues several other artistic endeavors. She is a talented photographer and graphic designer, and admits she was destined, in a way, to lead an artistic life: 'I enjoy so many different forms of art. My parents always knew I'd be involved with art in some way. My mom thought I'd be an actress because I'm such a drama queen and my dad is my biggest fan. He's got a sampler I ran off for friends and family displayed in his house next to my 8x10 senior picture. He tells everyone the tape is by his 'rockstar daughter.' When I was younger, I was always doing arts and crafts. I beaded, painted, colored, drew, danced, sang, sculpted, and played piano. I guess now that I look back, I was a bit of an art freak.' Now eighteen and armed with unrelenting ambition, Waters is ready and waiting to deliver. 'I'll be moving to San Diego by the end of the year. Time to flee the nest. My family thinks I'm stupid to leave Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, but I just have a feeling it's the right thing to do. LA is suffocating me.' If this is suffocating, one can hardly imagine what will happen when this girl can breathe.