Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and overall super talented artist Steve Lacy is back, and back with one of the most enchanting albums this year. Known for being a member of the amazing neo-soul group The Internet, and his various collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad, Solange and Blood Orange, his solo work has often been overlooked. His 2019 debut Apollo XXI was a great introduction to the young artist, but despite my glowing review, it didn’t really have the replay value I expected from it. I probably need to return to it and revisit it again, but for now I’ll focus on loving his sophomore body of work, titled Gemini Rights. I feel like he’s ascended to new creative heights. It’s a special album I’ve literally had on repeat since it came out, and this is the album I think I will have close to my absolute favourites of this year.
The opening track “Static” starts with a rumbling bassline, playful piano keys, and a reflective verse from Steve Lacy, who brings his vulnerabilities to light, asking someone out, over a sweet and minimalistic instrumental. Its playfulness and sweetness is what makes it a great opener, and one that sets the tone for the album perfectly. The guitar leads and upbeat drumming on “Helmet” are energetic and captivating, and so are Steve Lacy’s lonely and melancholic lyrics paint a clear picture of his state of mind. “Mercury” is one of the clear standouts for me, an utterly captivating track brought by the heavy percussion, vocal chants and rhythmic synth and guitar leads that are just so infectious. The whole groove of the track is just enthralling and utterly beautiful, as he’s truly able to channel some Stevie Wonder-levels of mesmeric, hypnotic soul music. “Buttons” on the other hand channels Prince, with a slower ballad that is still heavy in its groove and beat, while Steve’s guitar leads, beautiful vocals and eclectic synth leads make it a fantastic track. “Bad Habit” is a colourful, feel-good track where Steve Lacy goes over bad habits in relationships. “2Gether (Enterlude)” featuring Matt Martians is a playful interlude track, while the overpowering synths on “Cody Freestyle” make the track sound grand and hypnotic, especially with Steve’s incredible vocals that are just so beautiful. “Amber” is another soulful, moody yet playful track, while “Sunshine” featuring Fousheé is another highlight, perfectly capturing the summer-like, playful tone of Steve Lacy’s music, with hypnotic vocals, incredible guitar leads, an emphatic beat, and a feature that adds to the infectious soul of the track. “Give You the World” is another ballad, with Steve Lacy’s incredible guitar leads and sensual vocals that perfectly capture the aura and tone of his artistry. It’s a gentle, reflective closer to an otherwise layered, intricately composed body of work.
Gemini Rights is Steve Lacy’s most complete work to date. The instrumental layers, soulful vocals, formidable guitar leads and playful melodies are what capture the beauty and aura of this album. Thematically, Steve Lacy deals with self-love and growth, being in love and in a relationship, and all the shit that happens within that whole experience. It’s a personal, revealing and vulnerable body of worth that is sonically delicate and beautifully composed, and one that will continue to grow on me as I immerse myself further.