HMLT, pronounced “Hamlet”, a Toronto musical collective featuring a rotating roster of burgeoning artists release “Stay (feat. Joyia & Kei-Li)” as a single from their new project “Need You”.
As soon as “Stay” starts, you can feel it’s going to be something special. A simple, unaccompanied guitar arpeggio crescendos into a gripping, full band ensemble. The classic Soul/R&B drum pattern sets the tempo for a sultry story. Kei-Li’s vocal adlibs foreshadow the call-and-response motif heard throughout the song, and then Joyia comes in with a contemplative first verse. Kei-Li answers Joya’s heartfelt queries with his crooning, longing voice. Listening to “Stay” evokes imagery of two quarrelling lovers laying on a bed, as if they are facing away from each other - each turning when it’s their turn for a verse. The two voices combine for a duet on the chorus, as if the two lovers facing away from each other turn over at the same time. “I will stay for you” they sing; the emotion is tangible. The syncopation and staccato of the guitar during the bridge is the energy the lovers share after signing to one another. It’s almost as if you can feel them staring into each others’ eyes. When it’s Kei-Li’s turn for a verse, he addresses Joyia’s opening verse and you can feel his pain for causing the initial strife, accentuated by the climactic “I’m trying”. Joyia & Kei-Li come together one more time, the energy is different this time as if the air has cleared. A meandering keys solo brings “Stay” to a close, not to be outdone by one final response from a plucky guitar that fades into infinity. The lovers are going to stay for each other.
Joyia and Kei-Li each feature individually on other tracks on the album. “Need You” is an album that focuses on the importance of collaboration and the need for community. ‘I could not have completed this album without the help of my friends and fellow musicians’ says Corey. ‘It was a humbling experience that taught me the importance of collaboration. This album is 2 years in the making and I am thankful for everyone who is a part of it.’
“Need You” features contributions from Aubrey McGhee, Chad Avi, M.I. Blue, Desiire, Stefani Kimber, Colin Petierre, as well as other tracks featuring Joyia, and Kei-Li individually. The talent on this project combines to create a timeless, reminiscent, and nostalgic sound. It is something new, yet comfortably familiar. The album cover photography is done by Melissa Alcena and the art direction and design by Erich “Heinz” Rigonan.