Witch Prophet Explores the Vastness of Love on 'Gateway Experience'

BY Kyle MullinPublished May 1, 2023

When you hear the horns bloom like Valentine roses on "Dreaming," you'll be left wondering how Witch Prophet will respond to her wife SUN SUN's entrancingly romantic production. The Toronto alt-R&B singer certainly rises to that lofty occasion on this highlight from her new LP Gateway Experience. There's her chorus about being loved as she is; guest artist Zaki's heart swelling line about being "knee-deep in rapture" after cozy back rubs. Aside from lyrically distilling the everyday intimacy of a long-term relationship, Witch Prophet's speak-singing practically invents a new subgenre: jazzy pillow talk.  

Witch Prophet and SUN SUN's chemistry both inside and outside the booth isn't only evident on "Dreaming." Together they capture love's opposite pole on Gateway Experience midway track "I'm Scared." You'll ponder hard to remember a better ballad about caring for a loved one, thanks to the deep sorrow in Witch Prophet's voice and the pared down piano and string instrumental. Like much of the album, the song is inspired by Witch Prophet's struggles with seizures, amnesia, waking nightmares and the seemingly supernatural flourishes from those afflictions. Thanks to its teary restraint and effectives vocals, "I'm Scared" also wouldn't sound out of place on an Adele album. Yes, this fortified couple have the talent to tap into the breadth of love — for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Their sonic repertoire is just as vast.

Take, for instance, SUN SUN's lumbering drums on "Bird's Eye View (O.B.E)," a fittingly foreboding backdrop to Witch Prophet's lyrics about her out of body experiences due to her condition. Witch Prophet describes another symptom with equal effectiveness on "Dizzy," and Tara Kannangara's winding trumpet is once again a fitting evocation. The intricately strummed guitar on "Fire" dances like flames as Witch Prophet sings about the fevers that sometimes follow her seizures and visions. And while some of her lyrics are specific enough to ground these vignettes in her exceptional neurological struggle, Witch Prophet also writes lines that will be universal to listeners — be it descriptions of feeling lost in a grocery line or longing for an angelic rescuer while in the midst of turmoil. 

Impressive guest turns from Zaki Ibrahim, Begonia and especially DillanPonders — whose smooth flow on "Energy Vampire" is reminiscent of Wyclef Jean in his prime — round out Gateway Experience with aplomb. However, it's the symmetry between Witch Prophet's singing and lyricism and SUN SUN's production that truly makes this album rank among the year's best, not to mention the most heartfelt. 
(Heart Lake Records)

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