“You call me from the road / they tracked you down last week / your mom is finally gone / for the first time you’re free.” Justin Majetich delivers the opening verse of “The Gate” like he’s speaking to himself, waking up. This is the final track on a new sequence of songs, As I Once Transformed Myself For You, So I Must Now Transform Myself For Heaven. Which is released via Winspear.
Throughout his recording career, first, with quietly subversive pop generated under the moniker CARE, and most recently as Majetic, Majetich has inched closer and closer to a spiritual authenticity. This is not to say that the artist’s work was ever disingenuous. What we’re saying is that each release is a more successful address of the inner and out world of a man alive in the world. A man being what he is. The world being as it is. Majetic’s poetry addresses the truth that neither man nor world are fixed points. Evolution, transformation is key.
Across the tracks of, As I Once Transformed Myself For You, So I Must Now Transform Myself For Heaven, Majetic charts a journey. In saying goodbye to former relationships he also lets go of aspects of himself. These aspects were built to become the version of a person loved by a particular other. What is left of himself when he reaches ‘the gate’ – the final spiritual assessment?
The lines referenced earlier, “Your mom is finally gone, for the first time you’re free” demonstrates much of Majetic’s approach to all craft. Grief, relief, sadness and liberation all occupy the same space. It’s complicated, it’s sorrowful. It’s beautiful.
How fucking old is Justin Majetich? How did he get so wise – addressing the complexity of existence whilst avoiding the gushing one-dimensional nonsense of many peers? Has the songwriter locked himself in a room with Leonard Cohen’s “How to Speak Poetry” and absorbed the word to make it flesh?
There are nuanced biblical references across the sequence. “Wings”, “Paradise”, “The Gate” – all lean into scriptural iconography. But this isn’t a sermon. Majetich borrows from archetypes – coercing the listener toward love outside of judgment. Nothing is ever directly identified, and even at his most confessional (and there’s plenty of that) Majetich lays himself open and invites you to figure shit out for yourself. If you do figure it out it’s because you recognize shared aspects of yourself and others. An authentic connection is made between artist and audience – not through hooks and beats – but through emotional intelligence.
With all this talk about lyrical content and cerebral craft you’d be forgiven for thinking that the instrumental elements would be dry, or dynamically framed to point at every clue on the path. But they’re not.
As with the narrative of the songs, the instrumental elements are paradoxical. Jazz flute is soft and flighty here, auto-tuned voice, speaking as the subconsciousness is delivered there. Somehow a groove is established. ’80’s-era electronic drums whoosh in here – a parred down vocal offers incredible intimacy over there. The production work bringing this surreal excursion together is, frankly, flawless. Majetich’s vocal work, especially on ‘Paradise’ – when he sings about mountains… it’s the best of his recorded efforts.
Like Club Dread, Majetic’s previous full-length album, As I Once Transformed Myself For You, So I Must Now Transform Myself For Heaven, is like nothing else in it’s class. Sure, anyone can lazily call up references to Frank Ocean and the ability to place tenderness inside strength. But here is something else.
In Club Dread Justin Majetich was a spiritual object in a material environment. Here he is a material object dealing with the spiritual realm. It’s the artist’s unforced ability to marry the realms – to see the spiritual in the mundane, and the mundane in the beautiful that distinguishes his work.
There will be louder releases this year. They’ll be bigger sprawling efforts with countless producers, musical advisors, and thousands of dollars of publicity behind them. Those albums will be placed on the ‘best of…’ lists if the world survives until December. Some of those albums will be worth talking about, for sure. We can’t be pissed just because some folk have budgets to buy megaphones.
However, this is actually the best release of the year. And it’s only May. We say that softly, not because we’re wrong or uncertain – but to shout about beauty is in terrible taste.
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HURRY – BUY – MAJETIC MUSIC