By Dan Clapson, Contributing Writer
If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that despite our best efforts, things do not always go as planned. But there is usually a silver lining to every cloud.
Edmonton-based singer, Emmet Michael had an album set to be released on May 28th. So he was surprised to get a call from his fiancé in early May, letting him know that his album had dropped.
“I had put the wrong date [in the distribution site], so it came out on May 8 instead of May 28. I had a little bit of a freak out,” he says, laughing. “But my fiancé reminded me that you create and release music because I want people to hear it and not because I need to market it perfectly. That was really a good wake-up call for me.”
I Hope You’re Home stayed up for a day or two on streaming services before being removed and “officially” released on May 28. Whether one heard it “early” or not, people have been soaking up all the lyrical storytelling that the singer-songwriter has to offer with the 14-song album.
“Got enough baggage to travel the world” is the first thing you’ll hear Emmet Michael sing somewhat longingly in the song’s lead track “Early Sunday”. It’s the kind of line that yanks your ear and has you hanging off of every word that follows.
Growing up in a heavily faith-based community, Michael’s first taste of contemporary music wasn’t until his high school years. As such, the trans-masculine musician’s musical education originated in faith and worship.
He points to the fact that the music component of his religious upbringing has played a part in who he is today as a musician. He was able to hone the art of listening to fellow musicians and collaborating in his younger years while rehearsing for church performances.
“I think it’s one thing to be able to like pick up an instrument and sing a song on your own, but to do something collaboratively–especially something like worship music that is meant to emerge people and get them inspired and to be able to get them to the depths of their spiritual connection–[is another thing altogether].
Being a queer trans person, it goes without saying that Michael’s relationship with religion is complicated, but with his new album it’s clear that he’s found some peace. One of the underlying subtexts of his new music is the hope that his listeners have come to find the same sense of belonging that he has.
“For a long time, I was so obsessed with being accepted by the church that I totally lost sight of who was in my corner already. [I was] missing out on that, being sad about the people that were not loving and being totally ignorant of the fact that I was so loved by so many people.”
Despite struggles with some factions of his church, Michael does identify as a queer alt-Christian singer of sorts. It’s hard to fully pinpoint where the talented artist lands on the music spectrum. A splash of country, a dash of Americana, a pinch or two of alt-rock… but however you spin it, Michael’s emotive voice and phrasing has a magical way of drawing you in. This is truly a rarity in the music world, but it is always inspiring to watch a person forge their own path while surely paving the way for others like him.
I Hope You’re Home offers uplifting baselines of finding peace, love and different levels of self acceptance. Michael explains that he hopes to lead by example as a talented singer-songwriter and not specifically as a transgender musician.
“I think I used to feel the weight of that quite a bit heavier a couple years ago. I’m actually trying to get out of that and I think that is just something that happens naturally. I love that my story can be something that inspires other people who are going through the same thing, but I no longer view it as something that I absolutely have to carry,” he says.
Emmet Michael’s new album I Hope You’re Home is now available on all streaming platforms.