Between his countertenor vocals, contemplative songwriting and charm, Canadian-Ethiopian singer Emanuel (by way of London, Ontario) is indisputably the most exciting voice to have emerged to mainstream prominence from Canada’s underground music scene during the pandemic. In one short year, he was ushered into the music scene by Idris Elba with his emotive debut “Need You”, was championed by hip-hop legend Kardinal Offishall, and earned a slew of headlines, streams, and award nominations, including a JUNO nomination. But the flashy co-signs aren’t what makes Emanuel’s resume impressive––it’s his innate talent. On his debut album Alt Therapy, Emanuel assures critics that his music isn’t for a passing moment. He’s here to stay.
With intimate storytelling and hypnotizing vocals, Emanuel walks his listeners through a journey of healing and self-discovery on Alt Therapy. He majestically contrasts moments of grief and euphoria to paint a picture of a certain type of strength found in vulnerability–one that speaks to us all during this season of tribulation. He sets the tone for a truly beautiful listening experience with the soulful “Need You”. Written before the pandemic, his words feel almost prophetic looking back now. He also introduces several new songs that feel especially relatable for the world’s current state, like “I Need A Doctor”. He doesn’t shy away from hard to face realities, singing: “Everything I said I wanted is everything I never wanted. Truth is the truth hurts, I’m just a man in the same church. We start fires with our words, this time it’s the worst.” He sprinkles unreal vocals with fitting orchestral arrangements that make for movie-worthy scores on standout tracks like “Black Woman”, “Pillows” and “I Been”.
Using his life experiences as a muse, Emanuel brings us through his lows with strokes of dark hues, only to eventually find his way to the mountain’s peak. He’s bringing those who came with him along for the ride, as is evident in his new video for “Worldwide”. Cast against a jazzy soundscape and lush orange clouds, the hazy video for “Worldwide”, directed by Kit Weyman, engulfs us in its overwhelming warmth. Emanuel is optimistic for the days ahead when barriers won’t hold him back from living and loving to the fullest. With only real ones in his camp, Emanuel is indeed bound to “take the damn thing worldwide.”
Alt Therapy rings with an ambience of celestiality from start to finish. Its opulent and thoughtful melodies give us a much needed soul reset.
“This album represents a spiritual self-discovery for me. It’s about the nuances of the human experience,” explains Emanuel. “I hope Alt Therapy inspires others to gain understanding about themselves and the world, and that it’s attached to beautiful memories in their lives the way certain music is attached [to] mine. That would be an honour.”
They say life imitates art and Alt Therapy falls nothing short of that proverb. Like an artist crafting the perfect painting, Emanuel takes his duty as a musician to create and uplift earnestly. Filled with mountaintop-highs and valley-lows, Emanuel is blooming into all he can be on Alt Therapy, and he’s inspiring us to do the same.
Click the header image to escape into the ethereal visual for “Worldwide”, then dive into the full album below.