Halley Elwell’s ‘The Last Of What I Know’ EP cover. Photo by Jenna McFarland at Dear Jenna Photography

Augusta-based musician Halley Elwell releases her EP “The Last of What I Know” on Friday and will be livestreaming a benefit show on Saturday. The four original songs are a nod to Elwell’s love for women singer-songwriters who rose to fame in the late 1960s and ’70s, including Carole King, Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones.

“That period in music was such a fantastic melting pot of jazz, blues, soul, folk, protest song and rock,” said Elwell, a Hallowell native who studied jazz and African American music at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and spent many years as a jazz singer. “There will always be those elements of harmony, phrasing and vocal color that I’ll be drawn to.”

Elwell narrowed her selections from a long list of potential songs for the EP. “I chose these songs from the pile because I think they really lend themselves to that singer-songwriter period in American music,” she said.

I’ve listened to all four tracks several times over the past two weeks, and I hear shades of all the artists Elwell mentioned. She captures their essence while also creating her own sound. Elwell’s music sparks nostalgia, but is also notable for her fantastic voice and well-crafted lyrics, and the exceptional musicianship of the musicians and vocalists who joined her at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachuetts, for the recording sessions.

Take “Old Fashioned Kind,” for example. Playful piano and saxophone breeze through the song with ease as Elwell sings lines like “through the amber of the whiskey/stirring memories in my mind/I guess you’d call me the old fashioned kind.”

Then there’s the title track, where the horn takes on an air of mystery as Elwell laments past relationships. Warren Wolf’s marimba casually makes its way through the song as Elwell and the background vocalist (and drummer/guitarist) hit pay dirt with the refrain.

“Do Your Thing” sounds like Carole King could have penned it herself, and “Sisters on the J Train” made me think of Joni Mitchell’s songwriting. In fact, “Sisters on the J Train” was named a John Lennon Songwriting Contest finalist in the jazz category in March. She wrote the song after a ride on the J Train in San Francisco with a group of praying nuns.

Prior to “The Last of What I Know,” Elwell released the jazz album “Last Spring” in 2011. It was recorded in San Francisco where she lived for several years.

Elwell started on clarinet and piano in elementary school and can’t remember a time when she wasn’t singing. “It’s my first language, I think. It was just an extension of my creativity as a kid that never stopped,” she said.

She could say the same for writing songs. A desire to learn how to get the fully orchestrated music that was in her head out informed Elwell’s decision to go to music school. “I really loved writing music but I was always pretty aware that my songs were a little all over the place, so I just kept seeking out teachers who could help me until my talent caught up with my taste.”

A major musical influence was her mother, whose record collection was stacked with bluegrass, folk, gospel, jazz, psychedelic rock, gospel and singer-songwriters. She also credits her aunt for exposing her to musical theater and encouraging her to listen to many different vocalists. Her childhood piano teacher Marcia Gallagher, with whom she still performs, also shaped her musical style, as did her college vocal jazz professor, Catherine Jensen-Hole, and her mentor in San Francisco, Kitty Margolis.

Elwell hopes to be able to play shows in person this summer, but likes that the streaming show Saturday will give fans on both coasts who have supported her over the years the chance to see her play live. She will also premiere the video for “The Last of What I Know.”

Proceeds from tickets will go to the nonprofit Neurofibromatosis Northeast. Elwell was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when she was 11 years old. It is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that causes tumors to form on the nerves anywhere in or on the body at any time. Elwell said, when she was younger, she underwent several surgeries to remove tumors before they could grow big and cause disfigurement. Because of the tumors, Elwell has a collapsed right ear canal causing her to be hard of hearing on that side. As she has aged, her tumors have stopped growing, which she said is not always the case because the condition affects everyone differently.

There is no cure for neurofibromatosis, but Elwell is optimistic there will be one in her lifetime. She said she’s well aware that, when you choose to be a performer, you’re signing up to get stared at, but that doesn’t make it any easier. “It’s hard to live with a face that literally does not fit or mirror the other faces you see day today,” she explained.

Elwell talks publicly about neurofibromatosis because she hopes that more faces like hers become visible and normalized.

“We have a lot of quick fixes and filters in our society to erase perceived imperfections,” said Elwell, who also understands that people are curious about her condition. “I think a lot of people think they’re being polite by pretending not to ‘see,’  but I have no problem with someone saying, ‘Excuse me, do you mind if I ask what happened to you?’ ” She said that’s only actually happened once, when a little boy approached her and asked her nicely about it.

Suffice it to say, the entire topic of “beauty” standards is a hornet’s nest of complexity that won’t be solved today, but it’s one I will be thinking about more mindfully.

Here’s something you can do: Buy a ticket to Elwell’s livestream and find the EP digitally and on all streaming platforms. She’ll have CDs available this summer, and you can pre-order at halswellmusic.com.

Halley Elwell Livestream
7 p.m. Saturday, $10, eventbrite.com
Find a direct link to the event on Elwell’s Facebook page, @halswellmusic.

Comments are not available on this story.