NEW YORK, NY (March 15, 2019) – SONTALK, the latest project from singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joseph LeMay, makes its album debut with today’s release of Stay Wild [Sony Music Masterworks]. Available everywhere now, the twelve-track collection follows the personal trials, tribulations and triumphs of LeMay, culminating in an openly honest dialogue between himself and listeners. Having already been met with critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, Consequence of Sound and Billboard, Stay Wild hints at the vastly expansive sonic and emotional terrain of SONTALK, whose conversation has just begun.
By way of familial candor and visceral vulnerability, the twelve tracks comprising SONTALK’s 2019 full-length debut album, Stay Wild, chronicle musician Joseph LeMay’s journey of self-reflection, discovery, acceptance and ultimately, growth. Throughout the creative process, LeMay’s path spanned everything from frequent admittance to the psychiatric ward due to intense bouts with bipolar disorder and a suicide in the family to the birth of his son and ultimately, his creative awakening as SONTALK. In 2016, LeMay met producer Jeremy Lutito [Chuck Berry, Colony House] at the suggestion of engineer Logan Matheny. Together, they brought the vision of SONTALK to life, recording Stay Wild alongside Matheny at Big Light Studio.
“A strong theme I was working through in these songs is an almost out-of-body experience where you see yourself do things you would never do, say, or feel,” SONTALK explains. “That was how I felt dealing with being bipolar. The narrator is this guy who cannot justify himself or reconcile himself to explain his actions. That was me.”
Describing it as, “a series of open letters the main character leaves for his inner child,” LeMay imbues his debut with moments of triumph and despair, tossing and turning between emotional extremes to create an openly honest dialogue with himself and listeners. The inner duality LeMay speaks of is a notion fully explored throughout the entirety of Stay Wild, an expansion of the emotional terrain covered by his introductory EP, SONTALK: Act I, released last April. On Act I, the lead single "I Am A War Machine," through jagged textures and frenetic rhythms, LeMay invokes a voice on the verge of mental unraveling while simultaneously realizing its volatility and gaining awareness.
Meanwhile, the follow-up to Act I and Stay Wild lead single “The One Who Breaks Your Heart” tempers sunny strumming and upbeat percussion with electronic flourishes and LeMay’s emotional admission of remorse. The track was immediately met with critical acclaim upon its release, with Consequence of Sound writing, “The beautiful folk rock number lowers a sturdy head against a bleak situation with steady guitar strums and LeMay’s open, willful voice.” Elsewhere, “Baby, I’m Gone” fuses a stark and soulful vocal to sinewy acoustic guitar and a glitchy beat, with LeMay’s haunting voice echoing with powerful passion and plaintive poetry. Rolling Stone named “Baby, I’m Gone” one of the 10 best new releases of the week, calling the track, “an evocative, compelling song about leaving negative feelings in the rearview mirror.”
Stay Wild is grounded by LeMay’s powerful vocals and a delicate dissonance of multifarious sonic textures that range from distorted slide guitar transmissions, sequenced beats, vinyl samples and warm electronics. Two “lullabies” bookend the entire 12-song trip, beginning with the minimalist hum, sparse piano, and guitar cries of the title track “Stay Wild,” whose lyrics, “express sincere hope to keep innocence alive—even if it’s just a flicker.” Over the course of the album’s trajectory is a deeply emotional journey into LeMay’s life, concluding on “Julian,” in which a warbly sample gives way to a soft croon that offers an uplifting close to Stay Wild. Ultimately, the message of SONTALK offers a therapeutic and universal wisdom that is meant to be shared for a long time to come.
“Whenever somebody lays themselves bare and is vulnerable, it’s easier to empathize,” concludes SONTALK. “My hope is that by being honest, I can give listeners something to hold on to. By reflecting, I’d love to help people with their own self-reflection. For others who have had experiences like I’ve gone through, I hope the music is a consolation. I’m reminding them they’re not alone. This is just my version of a universal experience.”