On Gemini, Noah Reid describes the undefinable fear of losing someone because you are more in love with them than they could ever be in love with you.
I didn’t set out to write a review of Gemini—the sophomore album from singer-songwriter Noah Reid— when I opened up my computer this morning. I had another album in mind, but try as I might at getting those thoughts together, my mind kept coming back to Gemini; a tiny voice in my head kept insisting I need to get these words down on the page first. I shouldn’t be surprised by that, really. Reid’s record is a rare find for me, one that makes an immediate emotional connection that turns into a compulsion.
Gemini lives in the twin solitudes of being in love and being alone. If it were an emoji, Gemini would be a cross between the waterfall tears of the crying loudly face and the puppy dog eyes of the pleading face. Starting off madly in love, “Honesty” is a rip-roaring plea to his beloved to hold on to love’s heady intoxication for all eternity. Reid’s plain-spoken lyrics, peppered with idioms like “you’re speaking my language,” take on new meaning and shape with his unique musical phrasing and emotive singing. His pauses and mumbles cut to the heart of his songs’ emotional truths. A similar sentiment pops up on “Hold On”, when Reid sings of being “on the wrong end of too many a telephone call / trying to say too much and just ending up saying nothing at all”. In that one couplet, as he does throughout Gemini, Reid finds a way to describe the undefinable fear of losing someone because you are more in love with them than they could ever be in love with you.
That loneliness literally rears its face on “Hate This Town”, a song that finds frayed nerves and exposes them for all to see. Written about Reid’s experiences in Los Angeles looking for acting work, it’s quintessentially Canadian griping in its duality: “and you know I can’t complain / cuz the weather’s perfect here for circling the drain / ah, thanks again.” At his most poignant and vulnerable on “Jacob’s Dream”, Reid’s self-doubt manifests as a despondency that can only be described as the best possible sadness. It’s the kind of blues you know is healthy and ultimately necessary, but not the kind you want to bask in for long. It’s healing — restorative even — but when you’re alone in that intense despondency, it’s hard to see the way out.
There’s a fluidity to the emotional lives Noah Reid inhabits on Gemini. As an actor, Reid knows how to find the emotional arc of a story, how to connect the dots that take us from one end of the narrative to the other. In music, the narrative isn’t so linear, but the journey is no less intense. Reid brings the empathy necessary on the stage and screen to his songs. As a songwriter, he tells stories not by creating characters but by communicating their emotions. I didn’t set out to write about Gemini today, and I certainly never expected it to resonate so profoundly, but I shouldn’t be surprised that it does. In the midst of a global health crisis and a rapidly escalating fight against systemic racism and social injustices, I, like many, have needed to find moments of love and connection to fight away loneliness and fear. Gemini not only expresses what it feels like to have that emotional need but delivers it as well. Such is the nature of being in love and being alone: each rapidly moves to fill the void left by the absence of the other.