Massachusetts-based singer/songwriter Izzy Heltai has announced his forthcoming debut full-length album Father, due out October 9th, with the release of single “The Stranger You’ve Become.” “An honest, kind, genuine person generally believes their interpretation of a world at face value,” Heltai explains. “The majority of us choose to engage in the realities of other people with the best of intentions, not wanting to deceive. We aren’t faced day to day with the reality of how malleable our words and truths can actually be. Our realities are just collectively agreed-upon terms, rules, and conditions. The fact that I can look at a rubber duck, point to it, and claim that it is a rubber duck is only possible because we have all agreed that that is in fact what the physical object is. But what happens if someone comes along, points at that same object and tells you with absolute certainty that you’re wrong, and that object is indeed a hat? If no one else is there to tell you otherwise, who are you to believe that your interpretation of this object is based in more truth than theirs?” he continues. “When you’re intimately involved with someone, it is often difficult or nearly impossible to identify when this is happening. When you finally get out, it can be earth-shattering. The idea that you’ve been with a stranger, that you’ve been tricked. It’s a type of trust that can be extremely difficult to recultivate.”
With brutal honesty towards himself and forgiveness for those around him, Izzy Heltai’s music walks the elusive line between confessional and relatable. On his debut album Father, Heltai dives deep into his fascination with human relationships, and specifically the way that those relationships change and reorganize themselves over time. Heltai sees his own coming of age reflected in the album, which includes songs written over the past four years. “A lot of this record is about seeing memories and situations turn to grey, where black and white previously existed,” says Heltai. “Finding myself as an adult has largely been about how the people who have always been there for me can fit into my life in a new way.”
On the album’s opening track “To Talk About Yourself,” Heltai, who is trans, looks back at the way society fixates on his identity as the only story that he has to tell. “Being trans is a part of me that is worth talking about,” he says. “It’s a really cool thing that happened in my life, and informed a lot of how I see the world and how I know myself, and how I reflect on things… but as a marginalized individual, there comes a point where you feel commodified and exploited for your identity, and I’ve always had a fear, as an artist with many stories to tell, that my being trans is the only aspect of my work that people would take interest in.”
Throughout the record, Heltai braves the exploration of not only interpersonal and societal relationships but also his own relationship to himself, and reckons with the ways that periods of depression have caused him to abandon those he loves. “I think as I’ve grown up I’ve been able to realize that sometimes when your self worth is so low, you don’t think you can be worth anything to someone else, but that can actually cause you to hurt people that need you,” Heltai explains.
Father was recorded by Heltai’s longtime friend Andy Cass and produced by Sophie Buskin. The production is raw and full, with subtle harmonies and guitar lines weaving their way unexpectedly through the mix almost as if they were grown in the song. There is no sign of musical overthought, allowing Heltai’s emotional vocals to shine organically. At a time when any conversation with a stranger can quickly become a sociopolitical battle, Heltai’s introspective and thought out songs are a breath of fresh air. With an overwhelming empathy for humanity, and willingness to search for personal responsibility, Heltai’s Father will not leave your heart or your ears unchanged.