‘Gemini Rights’ gives us the world of Steve Lacy

Graphic by Olivia Abeyta

Steve Lacy’s funky instrumentals and impressive vocals show off his prowess at making old musical styles and lyrical themes feel so new again on “Gemini Rights.”

Gemini Rights, Steve Lacy’s latest psychedelic pop project, is worth listening to for any R&B or soul fan.

Lacy’s funky instrumentals and impressive vocals show off her prowess at making old musical styles and lyrical themes feel so new again on her second album. Released on Friday, the album features 10 emotion-filled tracks, which Lacy says are “the only real things sometimes” in an artist statement for Apple Music.

The Compton-based musician brings those emotions in spades, showing in even a single song how conflicting feelings can intersect and coexist, against our best intentions.

“The biggest lesson I learned at the end of this album process was how much love we make,” Lacy said in the statement. “I want to love unconditionally now. I will make love bigger, not smaller.

That love can certainly be felt in songs like “Give You the World,” a sultry jam you might put on the record player while you slowly dance around the kitchen. With gorgeous vocals that invoke Prince and the early Frank Oceans, this song puts a vintage filter on love.

“Amber” echoes that energy with a cohesive piano melody that sometimes takes on an almost theatrical feel.

However, not all of the songs on the album look at love through rose-colored glasses. “Sunshine” with Foushée examines a love story through the conversational verses of a recurring couple. Accompanied by an ethereal chorus, “Sunshine” chronicles both the troubles and affection that make up any modern relationship, seeing feuds turn into rekindled passion.

A great example of conflicting emotions comes from “Mercury,” which features dichotomous lyrics against an instrumental bossa nova. “A little heaven, a little unpleasant / I don’t know / A little pressure, a little depression / I don’t know”, sings Lacy. Touching on regret, longing and unease, the listener can easily connect with Lacy’s thoughts on navigating a relationship.

Although the ethereal theme worked well in many songs, it wasn’t always pleasant. In “Cody Freestyle,” the intro and first verse left me waiting for a beat drop that never came. Instead, Lacy stayed in his falsetto with reverberant leads as his accompaniment to the point that he almost felt his ears grating. The song could have used drums or a baseline to complement its ethereal qualities, and it ultimately felt out of place and unfinished. In other songs, some lyrics also left something to be desired. Some felt less than complete, almost placeholders in songs that would have benefited from a bit more development.

Despite its flaws, “Gemini Rights” is worth listening to. His funkadelic energy and serious, sultry lyrics shine through in his hit single, “Bad Habit.” It’s a song you can’t help but sing. The song puts a new spin on the “right place, wrong time” trope in a way that fully shows emotions at their peaks and valleys. Lacy’s raw vocals are allowed to shine in the last minute or so of the song as the chorus which includes “You can’t surprise a Gemini” is repeated to its end.

As the album’s title suggests, “Gemini Rights” features a wide variety of perspectives on navigating lust, love, and relationships. If you thought you knew what to expect from Lacy, think again — as he sings in “Mercury,” “You think I’m two-faced, I can name twenty-three.” Featuring multiple genres, varied perspectives on the subject matter of the song, and lyrics that reflect her queer and black identities, Lacy’s complex personality and musical style are on full display in this album.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyHettleman

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