soso and Maki are artists from Saskatchewan, who have both been working for about two decades, periodically coming together to work on projects, but also branching out and working on other collaborative projects and solo works as well. Their last project together, Not For Nothing, came out about seven years ago. Now things have finally lined up for these two to come back together to make a new full-length album, If and Only If.

If you’ve been following their careers up to this point, If and Only If will deliver something along the lines of what you might expect from these two. If you’re new to these two, you might need to take a step back to adjust your expectations and get in the right mindset to listen to this album. Self-described as “winter walking music,” If and Only If is a sad, contemplative album. Maki, handling the production, leans into drone, ambient, and post-rock to create this melancholic soundscape that is both beautiful and haunting. This matches up perfectly with what soso is doing on the mic, where he’s shifting between rapping, singing, and spoken word, as he works himself through everything from the political landscape of the last five years to mental health to personal relationships to general philosophical discussions. It’s not a happy-go-lucky album, but not everything has to be. This is the type of album that you clear out some space for and give it your full attention, because soso and Maki are working through some really personal and emotional stuff here, and as well made as this album is, it’s also a gut punch that you’ll need a moment to sit with yourself after its all over.

If and Only If is a challenging album from soso and Maki that demands a lot of patience and respect from their listeners as they take them on this journey, but for those willing to make the time and space for this album, you’ll be rewarded with a listening experience that will hit you on a very personal note.