REVIEW: Calvyn Cass — Are You Out There (SINGLE)

Using a mixture of lusty linguistics and a vocal delivery that has to rank among some of the smoothest I’ve heard from an indie player in a long time, Calvyn Cass makes it known to his listeners that singing is something more than just a passion to him in his new single “Are You Out There.” It’s a religion, a means of connecting with the universe around him, and he doesn’t pass up the opportunity to give us every ounce of energy he can produce at the microphone in this latest release, which critics like myself have been eating up as of late.


Rather than giving up a really bombastic performance complete with a lot of fanciful instrumentation and high-end varnish on the master mix, Cass doesn’t seem to have a problem taking things rather simple on the mechanics side of “Are You Out There,” and I can understand why. In a piece like this one, or really anywhere he’s involved, all he needs is his voice and a swaggering tone through which to present us a narrative — to put anything between artist and audience in this case would be to rob us of the complete talent he brings to the table.

There’s quite the romantic sway to the percussion in this single, and I think that in using the drums to introduce a stronger emotion to the mix rather than depending on his lyrics alone, Calvyn Cass makes it possible for us to understand the authenticity of his feelings and what he’s trying to communicate in “Are You Out There.” Maximizing the tension in this single was always a goal rather than an unfortunate side effect, and given how many of his contemporaries have been doing the exact opposite with their work lately, it makes his a very unique listen this fall.

The symmetry between the melodicism and the textured percussive element in the backdrop here is stunning to me as a critic, and it also leaves open the possibility for remixes of this single in the future if Cass should see fit. “Are You Out There” is a flexible piece, and I think that it could be reworked into a straight club anthem or even a more balladic listen with relatively small alterations behind the board. Possibilities, in a nutshell, are everywhere for this player, and I personally don’t see why he wouldn’t want to explore all of them at this stage of the game.

“Are You Out There” is most definitely one of the most compelling new singles I’ve listened to out of the Canadian underground this season, and though it doesn’t have much competition locally at the moment, it contends well with a lot of the crossover indie R&B/pop I’ve been hearing in the United States all year long. Calvyn Cass simply has too much moxie to remain contained within the underground for much longer, and I think that with this latest release finding an audience stateside, his ascent into the mainstream gets closer and closer by the day.

Colin Jordan