Cal Wilson makes a case for AI songwriting on new album ‘In Your Head’

Vancouver artist Cal Wilson chronicles love and loss on sophomore album In Your Head, with assists from his AI co-writer. 

Cal Wilson has released In Your Head, a playful yet melancholic collection of indie-rock that serves as the Vancouver artist’s sophomore album. The eight-track project opens with Home Of The Pale Horse, which coasts on the infectious twang of a guitar and pulls from the stylings of a spaghetti Western.

Flanked by twinkling keys and textured vocals, Wilson muses on being “the dark horse of the road,” singing with a country flair of unbreakable ties and “waiting for you.” 

Cal Wilson album 'In Your Head'
Credit: Robbie Augspurger

There’s a vivid storytelling quality to Wilson’s vocals and lyrics on In Your Head, as if the singer himself is recounting an age-old parable from the perch of a rocking chair. That energy continues on second track I Assume, which recalls a more upbeat cut from The Beatles with its sing-along melodies and surrounding electronics. The tempo slows on Disappear, which pairs brooding instrumentation with more sombre reflections on grief. 

Another day goes by with your picture in my hand,” Wilson laments between listless percussion, “Look back, you’re gone.” A thoughtful rumination on loss, Disappear sends the nostalgia into overdrive without resorting to all-out despair. That balance of bittersweetness — helped along by Wilson’s vacillating tone —  is felt on Hummingbird, which yearns for “room to be blue.” 

Perhaps the EP’s strongest showcase of Wilson’s vocals, Hummingbird recalls vivid images of rolling tears and cool breezes. All of this is not to say that In Your Head is pure doom and gloom. On the title track, Wilson leans heavy into piano pop for a jazzy romp of doo-wops and catchy hooks, while Glowing Lillies features harmonies so ascendent they might touch the clouds.

Cal Wilson album 'In Your Head'
Credit: Robbie Augspurger

When he’s not revelling in the springtime reverie of Glowing Lillies, Wilson bristles with existentialism on The World Died In A Dream. On that track, Wilson sings of the world’s end, but with its rhythmic percussion and witty lyrical descriptions, it’s far from apocalyptic. Wilson closes the proceedings with Yelling, which is punctuated by call-and-response vocal riffs and swift cadences, as Wilson sings joyously of “yelling at the moon.” 

Given flair for storytelling, it’s no surprise that In Your Head was borne out of Wilson’s own personal journey throughout the last three years. Following his father’s passing in 2020, the longtime artist found he was unable to process his grief through music, but he thankfully found an unlikely collaborator in the form of artificial intelligence. 


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“The workflow was best described as a partnership,” Wilson said of his AI co-writer in a press statement. “I rebuilt and tweaked a lot of the songs using my foundation in music theory.” Together, the pair enlisted Seattle band Heatwarmer for the creation of In Your Head, with production courtesy of Cameron Spies. 

Listen to Cal Wilson’s new album In Your Head below.