Can you find an artist whose music emulates the pain, euphoria, sorrow, passion, empathy, apathy, despair, & madness of life explored so wondrously by Roland Faunte? Nah. Contemplating life, death, coping, purpose, & perseverance, his debut LP Sewing Kit brings you to tears. It makes you feel understood—creeping into you, even the darkest, most private layers—and is the most cathartic music I’ve heard. But whether or not you have mental illness, it’s not about labels like that. It’s about the fears and insecurities found in all humans at some point. Roland also wrote, sang, and produced the album by himself. And it is just as impressive sonically as it is lyrically. All in all, Sewing Kit is a masterpiece in every conceivable way.

Sewing Kit begins at Hand Over Hand, with over 1.5 million streams on Spotify. Calm, melancholic, and reflective, it deconstructs Roland’s struggles with depression—materializing them with surreal metaphors and soft imagery. While setting the tone, Hand Over Hand also perfectly shifts the album to the next song.

“So hear me now

Without mistake

In case I falter and I break

Without a doubt

Let me be clear

You are the reason I’m still here.” –Hand Over Hand

Musically, the album shines in Happy Life, which boasts 1 million plays. Written for a girl who helped him stay alive in his hardest times, this love song shows Roland’s superb range & delivery as a singer, coupled with beautiful lyrical musings about life, love, and relationships. The first 90 seconds are slow, as Roland contemplates the dichotomy of his life with and without her, only to explode into a beautiful crescendo of drums and piano. Every song on Sewing Kit is amazing—there is not a wasted minute on the 8-song, 41-minute LP—but Happy Life is a standout.

Lake is a reminder that the depth of songs on this album is so immense that it’s difficult to prescribe arbitrary meaning to any one of them. But the album is such that whatever interpretation you derive is valid for your personal experience. Lake seems to touch upon the paranoia, depression, & doubts of bipolar disorder—and the allure of escaping your problems, of ending it all. “Everyone I’ve ever known is around me, and it looks like I’ve let them all down, somehow.” Relatable.

The album’s emotional nexus is Levers. With dazzling, meandering poetic cuts, Levers goes right for your heart for almost 7 minutes. Its theme is unequivocal: suicide. But it wanders through the human condition, what haunts us, and much more. The musings contain overwhelming depth. It is impossible to sufficiently elucidate the beauty of Levers. Honestly, it’s the most cathartic song I’ve ever heard. It quickly became my favorite song, too. I even made a music video.

Broken boy who must keep hoping

Maybe one day he will figure this out

Or things will heal in time

This breathing ghost that never died

These bits and pieces all left over

From that smiling child I used to be

I’m cold and terrified

I know there’s warmth but I can’t find it.” –Levers

The second half of the album is as seamless as the first, perhaps more. While it doesn’t pack the fireworks of Hand Over Hand, Happy Life, Lake, and Levers, it continues the moods & sounds that stand out in the LP. I’ll keep this short since I’ve already covered the songs I wanted to discuss the most. Dancing with the innocent bliss of love, Mud and Pollen reflects upon the relationship and all it meant to him. With an absolutely beautiful chorus, bridge, and outro, the song shifts gears while maintaining continuity. How to Reappear contemplates his conflicted feelings about whether life remains worth living and the ramifications of a potential death. Next comes another of my favorites: Lilies. With phenomenal production, this song is like a dove—soaring through the skies, looking around, with no idea how beautiful it truly is. Roland’s subtle, powerful piano notes put you in a trance. The album ends with End on a Hai, a Revelation type end to a grand story.

“Send me home into the clouds

Hey little boy you can settle down

You’re going back to where it’s warm

Down the hall toward the pearl gate

They are singing my name

And I’d like to join them.” –End on a Hai

Sewing Kit recently turned 2 years old. Still, I am not tired of a single song on it, no matter how inherently sad they often are. And among the 50+ friends with whom I’ve shared the album, I only hear emphatic feedback. It is a colossal achievement disguised as a minor one. It is ambitious and jaw-dropping yet personal and intimate. It’s always in the back of my head—and those of many others. Perhaps it’s not an album for every single human per se. But if you’ve struggled before, which applies to most of us anyway, it’s more than gold. It’s revolutionary. And indeed, Roland Faunte is one of the most promising artists of his entire generation.

Rating: 9.5/10

P.S. Roland is the other *famous musician* I happen to be friends with. This may have influenced my rating. But I bet I’d like it just as much if I didn’t know him.