Vulnerability and honesty are key elements in Canadian artist Emaunel’s music. Alt Therapy, the R&B artist’s debut album, isn’t the exception. A brilliant follow up to his precedent EP’s, Session 1: Disillusion and Session 2: Transformation, Alt Therapy is riddled with incredible and raw storytelling, detailing the emotional and rewarding process of healing and growing.
Born to Ethiopian parents, Emanuel traces his musical lineage back to his family and culture and the scriptures often sung around him. In an extraordinary start, Emanuel released his debut single, “Need You” during the early months of the global pandemic, accompanied by a music video with creative direction from Idris Elba. Emanuel has since been featured on Amazon’s Music Artist’s to Watch, Rolling Stone India’s Top 100 songs of 2020 and most recently a JUNO award nomination for Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.
Alt Therapy, released through Motown Records and Universal Music Canada, features songs from Emanuel’s previous EP’s in addition to six new tracks including the album’s debut single, “Worldwide.” Serving as a tool for manifestation, “Worldwide” is a powerful and straightforward mantra in which Emanuel speaks into existence the global success he dreams to achieve through his music. In a recent press conference he called the single a prayer, “I want to say those lines, I’m trying to manifest saying those lines. I’m on my way to LAX just flew from NY. I really want to get to work, I really want to make those connections, I really want to do those things and that’s really what the song was born from.”
These deeply moving and honest lyrics are carried through the rest of the album and uphold the morals Emanuel has set for his songwriting by placing great importance on the power of creating music with substance. This element was something Emanuel respects in the artists he loves most.
“What’s the point of having somebody’s ear, what’s the point of such a beautiful way to connect with people if you’re not going to say something real, if you’re not going to tell the truth,” Emanuel said.
Inspired by artists like Frank Ocean, Emanuel’s emotional lyrics combined with effortless vocals add to the profound storytelling of Alt Therapy, in tracks like “I Need a Doctor”, a cry for help during helpless moments and “Black Woman” a beautiful celebration inspired by the black women in his own life and around the world. The goal of “Black Woman” Emanuel said was to create a love letter and tell that love story unapologetically. This love and admiration shines through in the song’s lyrics, “how do you smile when you’ve got nothing to smile about” and “how do you love when they don’t love you back?”
The messages in Alt Therapy are impactful but songs like the slow and sensual “PTH” and the romantic “Pillows” bring lightness into the album. “Hindsight” is Emanuel’s only collaborative piece on the album, featuring Canadian singer songwriter, Dylan Sinclair. Emanuel and SInclair’s expressive and soothing vocals compliment each other nicely on the R&B duet.
The album concludes with “I Been” an honest look into relationships that tells the sweet story of recognizing one’s mistakes. The stripped down track ties the album together perfectly by acknowledging the healing that was needed and now allowing the space for growth. Of this track, Emanuel said, it allowed him to vocalize a deeper understanding of the situation and use this as a tool of accountability.
Alt Therapy is raw, emotional and at the right times rewarding. Emanuel successfully explores the moments of sadness and structures his debut album to detail the emotional and heavy healing and the growing. Emanuel is a voice to be reckoned with, one who will no doubt take his music worldwide and Alt Therapy is definitely not the album you want to skip this year.