The Toronto-based artist/producer is known for his idiosyncratic approach. His musical arrangements are developed with his own nia (purpose), invested with personal sentiments, while being developed to create an intimate experience, whether listening solo, or in a live setting with an audience. Beyond the standard puzzle pieces of Neo Soul, R&B, Electronic, Rap, Gospel and Hip-hop, it’s the inflections of his personality and artistic background that make the music whole.
And we get that “whole” sound on It Takes Two. While “Vespers” invites you into a large soundscape, as it fills the the room even if you’re alone. Moving into “Come Find Me,” Taila Tailor joins McCallaman to deliver her gracious vox layered with a bouncy bass, staccato beats and synths of praise. As McCallaman sings, “I pray that you find me / as I find my voice / I’m not looking behind me / Got an option of choice.”
Love and lust come to the forefront on “Beautiful Trouble,” as the artist shows the vulnerability that comes with desire and longing. Teaming up with LA songstress, Roni, the pair bounce back and forth with a beautiful exchange in singsong dialogue. Taking a break and letting go, “Vacation,” is a brief time off in the middle of the album. McCallaman's lyricism is clever and honest (“Well, I’m really out here on my vacation/ And I really don’t care whether you are vacant”) and speaks to a partner that taught lessons on progression and surrendering.
“Pleasure Island" is a bit of an enigma. From this perspective, I think McCallaman is looking at the concept of breaking free from anything holding him back, perhaps any personal fears or doubts about his life, through a subtly hedonistic lens. In a state of samsara, the tempo moves faster on the pulsing, fun, yet analytical, “Karma.”
“Everyday” and “Smile” possess a certain indescribable lightness that continue to carry McCallaman’s narrative of being drawn to someone’s beauty, both physical and the innate, internal sense. Both brief pieces, the artist’s signature chord progressions and soulful arrangements create something broader; the length of the tracks don’t matter, for there is emotional depth in every cadence and key.
McCallaman concludes the album with the profound, “You Got A Friend.” The messaging is quite universal; the artist examines the presence a person has in another’s life, no matter the weather or situation. It could possibly represent a partnership that has dissolved or changed over time, but a bond has been kept intact. A friendship that has a solid foundation of trust and accountability. Or simply the connection between two people, built on compassion and understanding; souls meeting for a reason that you may not understand, but the universe does.
It Takes Two is a sonic delve into key elements of human connection, and the many transitions and growth experienced over time. McCallaman never ceases to dig deep, but this album truly weaves through your heart and soul.