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Steve Lacy - Gemini Rights (Album Review)

Monday, 25 July 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Catch the name Steve Lacy on a festival line up and it might bring to mind a middle aged English pop-rocker knocking out 35 minutes of a forgotten 1990s catalogue before finally cracking and playing the one massive hit. Instead, you’d actually find an exciting kind of neo-soul Frank Ocean-Thundercat mashup infused with DIY production and sass.

Lacy hails from Compton, California and has enjoyed a thrilling rise through the grades of pop music, sparking collaborations with Kali Uchis, Vampire Weekend and Kendrick Lamar, while bringing guitar fireworks to the genre-bending outfit The Internet.

‘Gemini Rights’, the follow up to his well-received 2019 solo bow ‘Apollo XXI’, brings confidence and calmness to the table. Stand out tracks include the excellent crunchy sex-dirge Buttons and the breezy toe tapper Sunshine.

This latter song features the vocal stylings of Fousheé—who also has writing credits on a number of tracks—and lifts the overall quality of the songwriting with its storytelling.

But the most memorable aspect of this record is Lacy’s key skill: his guitar playing. Melodious and occasionally virtuosic, it makes up for a voice that is not always fully confident. This is demonstrated on Mercury, a psychedelic soul song with Spanish strumming and introspective lyricism. If these two aspects work together in better harmony, the overall music will improve.

That said, Lacy’s musicianship and arrangement skills might already be the things that separate him from so many songwriter-producers in an industry that seems increasingly developed around the algorithms of TikTok. ‘Gemini Rights’ doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, but it’s clear that we are seeing the emergence of a real talent here.

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