Indie singer-songwriter Danny Schmidt is returning to Charlottesville Thursday to perform at The Southern. Schmidt has been writing and releasing his own music since 1999 and is currently promoting his ninth album “Owls,” which will be released on May 19. Arts & Entertainment sat down with Schmidt to hear what he had to say about coming back to perform where he first started sharing his music. Arts & Entertainment: What is different about your newest album “Owls”? Danny Schmidt: “Owls” is still totally a song-forward lyric-driven album, like most of my albums. But we built the production for this record around the core of a band. So it has a very live energy feel to it. Plus, it’s a little more rocking, and a little more moody. A&E: What inspired this album? Is there an underlying theme to this album? DS: I never really set out to write an album under the umbrella of a central theme. It’s more that over the span of a year or two, in writing the songs, themes begin to emerge on their own from the songs. I’d say “Owls” has very mystical undertones that run throughout the songs… it has this sense of watching life from a bit of a raised platform. That’s what inspired the title. A&E: What is your favorite track on it? DS: As for my favorite song, that’s a tough one — they’re all your babies! There’s a special place in my heart for “Soon The Earth Shall Swallow” and “Cries Of Shadows” though, for totally different reasons. "Soon The Earth...” just has an energy and a musical mood that I really enjoy… and I think it touches on environmental issues in a way that feels energetically appropriate. It has an almost psychedelic feel. And "Cries Of Shadows" I like because it feels like a very self-contained tune, a life-cycle story of a person’s evolving relationship with their own darker side. A&E: Which track was the most difficult to write? DS: As far as which tune was the most difficult to write, probably “Girl With Lantern Eyes” … cause it’s a sequel to a song I wrote years ago called “Dark-Eyed Prince.” It was important to me that it be true to the tone of the original, which is hard to pull off when you’re dealing with an entirely new song structure. A&E: Who are your main musical influences? DS: My main musical influences tend to be the great writers: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, Dave Carter. Those are guys whose music meant the most to me, and had the biggest impact on my life. But I have pretty eclectic tastes, and listen to all sorts of stuff… and I’m sure all of it manages to seep into my subconscious and into my own writing. A&E: What are your expectations for this show? DS: It’s always great to be back in Charlottesville for a show… especially when I have a new album to share. I first started writing and performing when I lived in Charlottesville in the early 2000’s. So coming back to play really does feel like coming home to see my family and to catch up with them, musically and personally. A&E: What’s next after this tour? DS: The album isn’t officially released to the rest of the world until May 19. So the Southern show will be a sneak preview and a chance to share the first copies with my Cville friends. But then I’ve got a full slate of release tours and promotional campaigns I need to attend to for the next few months, culminating in a couple months in Europe in the early fall. So it’ll be a busy next few months.