Cal Trask | Gemini God (debut album)
Toronto-based indie singer-songwriter Cal Trask (a.k.a. Calvin Heinrichs) refers to himself as a "sad boy singing sad songs." While the statement itself is accurate, a few essential qualifiers are necessary. The sad songs are meaningful and real - dealing with the complex, challenging realities of life that don't particularly fall under the 'carefree' category. And the sad boy is a deep-thinking, talented musician who honestly, brutally and yet elegantly releases the emotions and demons within the lyrics using his emotive, fragile and soothing voice.
Moving forward from the release of his impressive 2017 debut EP, Posthumous, which graced our ears and minds with standout tracks like "Above Water" and "King of Hearts," Cal Trask set his sights on Stockholm, Sweden and producer Andreas Unge to create his debut album, Gemini God. While the two had previously worked together to create Posthumous, Calvin wanted to make sure Gemini God took on its own, fresh style. "The production of the new album is a little bit more experimental," Calvin remarked when SoundThread caught up with him last year. "I didn't want to create this cookie cutter album that could blend in to every playlist but I wanted it to stand out as being a bit weird and off brand for the songwriter genre."
As the Gemini God album came to life at the recording studios at Stureparken 1, Calvin seized the opportunity to make the songs as honest and open as possible. "I lost all desire to tone down my writing to make it more palatable or mainstream for this album. It's brutally honest, intended to make you think and of course feel some form of emotion," Calvin explains. "Less censored doesn't necessarily mean less refined, so it was liberating to be able to express everything I wanted to exactly how I intended to." Regarding the underlying theme of the album, Calvin comments, "Gemini God is an album that says we are human; we hurt, we bleed, but we shouldn't feel alone because everyone hurts and bleeds. I choose to believe there is comfort in solidarity... This album is written with the intention of relating to other people. For others to understand the hardships we face in life and for us to gain perspective into what others may be going through."
The ten stunning tracks on Gemini God lead us through an emotional, touching journey of vulnerability and openness that appropriately begins with the auto-biographical "Sad Boy" ("I'm just a sad boy singing | in the mad world | feeling like I can be the reason and give you something to believe in"). "1918," one of the most upbeat and happy-sounding songs on Gemini God follows. With its warm, reverberated guitar hooks and Calvin's soaring, yearning vocals, this track is a standout. In case you wondered, the song title is a reference to the number assigned to Calvin several years ago in tryouts for The Voice.
Addressing the emotion and sadness of moving on from a relationship, "Boys Do Cry" takes the tempo down a notch with a laid back vibe and electronic beats nicely woven into the song ("And now I'm cleaning out the closet in more than one way | And I watch you walk away through the windowpane wishing you could stay | And I won't lie, boys do cry, and baby I'm the same | And I hope with time, that my tears dry and everything will change").
In one of the most touching tracks on Gemini God, Calvin teams up with singer-songwriter Tessah Dunn on "If You Need," a beautiful atmospheric piano ballad that features a moving vocal duet from the two artists. Previous 2019 single release and Gemini God album teaser, "Silence is Broken," follows with its contemporary, poignant reflection on the smiling masks people often wear to cover up the turmoil, sadness and complexity that sometimes lie within. ("And you just see my smiling teeth, but don't quite see what's underneath | You believe my broken bones, but not my mind when I'm all alone.")
In a musical vein reminiscent of the poignant "King of Hearts" from the Posthumous EP, the acoustic "Retrograde" gently introduces the second half of Gemini God, with a lyrical tribute to a father figure who provides shape and structure for living life on one's own. The album's title track, "Gemini God" is the instrumental and steady-paced, melancholic piano loop that transitions the listener to "Amends," yet another standout on Gemini God. The song gently builds to its rolling, almost-anthemic chorus with lyrics that warn the listener, "My demons aren't here to make amends." The minimalist, piano-driven "Wooden Door" laments on the scars of futile attempts to offer support to one who hides behind a symbolic wooden door ("I've got slivers on the back of my hands | I will never knock again").
The atmospheric and ever-so-gentle "Womb of the World" softly leads the listener from the Gemini God journey, with Calvin's sorrowful, heartfelt voice alluding to reunification with nature and new life blossoming from the bones and tears of the prior.
If you haven't done it already, take a deep breath and step back from the bustle of life, and take in the songs and themes of Cal Trask's Gemini God.