Emanuel's 'ALT THERAPY' Is an R&B Journey Through Healing
Published Jun 17, 2021Soothing, euphoric and completely therapeutic, Emanuel's debut album ALT THERAPY is appropriately titled and even more true in sound. The London, ON-born, Toronto-based singer's two prior ALT THERAPY EPs, featuring material that would eventually end up on the full-length, explored different facets of tumult and healing that set the table for ALT THERAPY. Through the power of Emanuel's tender vocals and silky R&B sounds, the record takes listeners on a journey through yearning, romance and liberation from past pain.
For a large portion of the project, Emanuel is in the midst of the lavender haze — utterly lovesick and seemingly in awe of the subject of his desire. On the opener "Need You," lush strings intertwine with Emanuel's smooth-as-butter riffs as he sings "I feel I need you to be" as though his object's affection and mere presence is like oxygen to him. On "I Been," the singer professes that he'd do anything for his lover on top of luxurious guitars and descending harmonies.
It's clear that love in its many forms is a massive motivator to Emanuel on this record, and it's the relationships and intimacy he shares with someone he loves that play an undeniable factor in his own healing process. The spiritual piano chords on "Thought It'd Be Easy" are reminiscent of church organs and give off a vibe similar to a Miguel song as Emanuel thinks of his person even when he is with someone else.
Though mostly keeping a consistently misty and enchanting tone, the record doesn't shy away from heavier concepts and sounds. "Addiction" grapples with being on a synthetic high and the messy crash back down to Earth afterward, where using anything to distract oneself from anxiety is comforting but fleeting. "Medicine" is the most energetic song on the album, a club banger with deep, dark beats that reverberates in the listener's mind.
While ALT THERAPY meanders occasionally, Emanuel delivers a fully realized sound. Even though he may falter and experience disillusionment in his life, he always comes back to healing in the end. (Universal)