Originally written and published by me for Spectrum Culture.
“I want you to promise me / The way this feels right now is how it’s gonna always be,” Noah Reid sings moments into his sophomore album, Gemini. This is Reid’s second album to be released independently, a contemporary folk record that explores the highs and lows of young adult life, loss, and heartache. The Canadian musician had previously seen moderate success in 2016 with his debut album, Songs from a Broken Chair, followed by the popularity of his cover of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best,” which his character Patrick sang to David (Dan Levy) on the critically acclaimed Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek.
Reid’s vocal style is reminiscent of John Mayer meets James Blunt, but with his own unique twist of vulnerability. The album’s strengths are found in its quietest moments, where Reid’s songwriting really stands out. “Well it’s hard to hear yourself speak above the noise on our street / And it’s hard to cool down when your body generates heat / And it’s hard to write songs when you feel like you can’t even speak,” he sings on the mental health anthem “Hold On,” which feels especially relevant in the age of pandemic anxiety.
Reid also gets candid about the emptiness of fame and how much he dislikes certain places that are so different from what he knows. “But I can honestly say / I fuckin’ hate this town / Did I say that already / Well I’m saying it now / It’s a thinly veiled disdain / I mean, what kind of people are afraid of the rain,” he sings on “Hate This Town,” with the rain he’s singing about representing a kind of emotional weather—one that tends to follow us all around from time to time. Different from melancholy, Gemini is more about a yearning to solve things that can’t be solved, to feel deeply or not at all, and perhaps a greediness to experience, all at once, everything that life has to offer.
“Neverending December” finds him confronting more heartache and anxiety—the terrifying feeling of being confronted by your own mortality. “Maybe if I don’t look down / Then I can be a tightrope walker,” he sings. “But maybe you won’t understand / And I should leave these doubts unspoken.” And on “I Guess I’ll Just Lie Here,” Reid confronts that age-old existential dread that arrives unwelcome at our doors on lonely nights: “I guess I’ll just lie here / Way too awake / Thinking of everything that could go wrong.”
Gemini closes with “I Miss Writing Songs,” a nostalgic ballad about those moments growing up when we realize that what we hold dear to our hearts sometimes slips away in the noise of adult life. “I miss writing songs and drivin’ my old car across America / And I miss writing songs and feelin’ confident temporarily / And I miss waking up and feeling terrible, it seemed so valuable,” he sings while playing guitar. While growth is painful and nothing in life is certain, Reid’s second album wants us to leave a light on for the people we were and the people we’re going to be.
Jeffrey’s favorites from Gemini: “Honesty,” “Hold On,” “Hate This Town,” “Got You,” “Neverending December,” “I Guess I’ll Just Lie Here,” and “I Miss Writing Songs”