New album ‘Yessie’ from Jessie Reyez out today

While Toronto-born singer and songwriter Jessie Reyez drops her sophomore album “Yessie” on Friday, at least one song she released earlier this summer won’t be on it.

“Fraud,” released June 24, is a three-minute-and-25-second tirade against a former friend or lover who, in typically raw and frank Reyez fashion, is bluntly branded a treacherous, compulsive liar in what appears to be a one-sided relationship or a possible romance gone wrong.

Not surprisingly, in the song and the accompanying video that she co-directed with Emma Higgins, the 31-year-old multiple Juno Award winner and Grammy nominee holds nothing back, cursing a blue streak in the process.

Considering this isn’t the first time Reyez has unloaded unfiltered pain, hurt and anger — “F— It” and “Figures” from her debut 2017 EP “Kiddo” are two that come to mind — and the strength of this R&B number, it’s a bit of a surprise it didn’t make the “Yessie” cut.

But speaking last week over Zoom, Reyez offered an explanation: the song was too noxious to fit in thematically with the album’s 11 songs.

“I’ve definitely evolved and I am continuing to grow as a person,” she said, sitting on a hotel bed. “I’ve worked on a lot of healing and I know that some of my older catalogue has a lot of toxicity in it and a lot of that darkness. It’s still present in the album, but it’s not as present, you know?

“So, if anything, I almost wanted to let it out before this album comes, because the album has a little bit more healing energy and is a little bit more positive. Still has some toxicity, because I’m a Gemini, so it’s very natural for that to be in there as well.”

It turns out that when the pandemic hit — just after her debut album “Before Love Came to Kill Us” was released in March 2020 — Reyez took some time to look inward.

“During the pandemic, I hit a low and it just made me take inventory of everything,” she said — and she decided to embark on a course of self-improvement.

“It wasn’t an overnight thing. It was a lot of practice, a lot of self-help books, therapy, reflecting and starting to take note of the voice in my head more often. If that little voice isn’t showing me grace, and I’m teaching other people how to treat me, why would other people feel motivated to uphold the standards that I’m supposedly asking from them when I’m not even reaching those standards internally?”

Between Deepak Chopra “21 Day Abundance Meditation” workshops and reading self-help books like Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now,” Reyez said “being relegated to four walls and yourself” during the pandemic allowed her room to slow down.

“Everything was moving so fast right before it,” she explained. “I was on tour and I had to work to distract me with — which is a pattern of mine, to just kind of dive in and focus and leave everything else as secondary or tertiary — so it forced me to take inventory of the baggage that I had been carrying and kind of shove it under my figurative bed.”

The woman whose Twitter slogan is “I like to sing about s-t that I don’t like to talk about,” the former Argos cheerleader and daughter of Colombian immigrants, has been authentic to the point of endearment to her fans, who are rabid in their support and relate to her music to the point where they almost feel like they’re looking in a mirror.

“That’s sweet,” she said about her devout fans. “It’s wild. It’s a beautiful by-product. I mean, there’s so much in this industry that is calculated because it’s just the nature of the business. But the songs are about life. The songs are about my truth, so the fact that someone can hear them and say, ‘I f–ing went through this, this month’ … it’s just wild.

They’re likely to find more common ground with “Yessie,” an album that Reyez describes as “different,” but which remains as emotionally graphic as her earlier work. There’s the depiction of being emotionally spent in a relationship with the first single “Mutual Friend,” a 6/8 ballad backed with a plucked string section; the playful lust-filled kiss-off of “Queen St. W,” the sad broken-hearted lament of “Still C U,” the romantic rebound of “Break Me Down” and the triumphant jubilation of “Adios Amor” — revealing slices of life as only Reyez can express them.

New album ‘Yessie’ from Jessie Reyez out today

“I think it’s more honest and, if anything, I think it’s more vulnerable, which is abstract to say, because you think when you’re sharing darker secrets that that might be thought of as ‘more vulnerable,’” Reyez said.

“It’s almost like I’m opening myself up, ready for life and ready for love. And before, I was always scared because I couldn’t ever control how deeply I would fall. So, by default, I couldn’t control how bad I would break.

“But because I’ve made such an effort to work on self-care and self-love, it’s almost like, ‘OK, I can be open to love because I know that if s-t goes left, I’m going to be OK because I have my own back.’

“In love, I’ve always had these walls,” she added. “But it’s funny what perception is with a person versus how you view yourself and how you feel, because I definitely feel that this is probably the most vulnerable I’ve ever been.”

By displaying this open heart so often in her songs, does Reyez — who kicks off the 29-date the Yessie Tour next month in Miami with Nov. 28 and 30 stops here at History — find her music to be therapeutic?

“By default, I guess. It’s not really like I feel better after writing this song or I leave the studio: my ego does, because I felt like I got something out of it, like someone broke me or hurt me or whatever or I did, I broke someone or hurt someone or walked through something negative. At least I got something out of it, like a blue ribbon or a consolation prize.

“So it makes me feel better that way, but in terms of feeling better: no. If anything, it’s worse because the feeling is like you’re picking a scab sometimes. You know, I walk in — it’s been two weeks since I cried — and all of a sudden this song decided to come out of me and now it feels like it’s fresh again.”

Although she was born in Toronto, her family relocated to Florida for a few years. When she returned, Reyez hooked up with Regent Park’s the Remix Project and worked on her songwriting with dvsn’s Daniel Daley.

“It changed my life so much,” she said. “The Remix Project really altered my life and shifted everything. The thing that affected me most from there and had such a positive effect on me was them providing mentorship, because my whole life all these dreams seemed so far away.

“And for the first time, when people would come and speak to the class … they were people who had achieved all these beautiful dreams that I saw as being so distant. But these people were in front of me now and they were human, and they bled like me and breathed the same air as me, and had hair like me and skin like me, so it just made it all that more real. There’s nothing extraordinary in their bodies that’s not in mine, so I too, by, default, scientifically should be capable. It just made the possibility more realistic of achieving my full potential.”

Aside from releasing projects on her own FMLY/Island Records imprint, Reyez has worked with a number of high profile artists ranging from Eminem and Lewis Capaldi to Kehlani and Calvin Harris, and more recently toured with Billie Eilish.

“It was the first time I’ve ever been present on a tour, because every other tour I was either going through something or dealing with something and it was very difficult for me to be present,” she said.

“But I think because I worked on myself, it’s given me a how-to-live better (lifestyle) and I’m actually enjoying the places where I was at because I’ve never done that.

“There was always just work, work, work. If I was dealing with insomnia and I couldn’t get any sleep or I would just be in the (tour bus) bunk, stay up and ruminate over s-t and I would just never make time to be human.

“But for the first time I was like, ‘I’m going outside to see the sun and getting a hold of my circadian rhythm,’ and it was just lit!”


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Next Post

Which Drugs Fight COVID Best? WHO Updates Treatment Guidelines | Health & Fitness

Fri Sep 16 , 2022
FRIDAY, Sept. 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) — In updated guidance issued Thursday, the World Health Organization now recommends against using the antibody drugs sotrovimab and casirivimab-imdevimab for patients with COVID-19. This recommendation replaces previous conditional recommendation for these antibody drugs. The change in guidance was based on emerging evidence that […]
Which Drugs Fight COVID Best? WHO Updates Treatment Guidelines | Health & Fitness