Spend five minutes with Terrell Mcleod Richardson and come away with a sneaking suspicion that only a select few merit his full attention. Not to say that the Montreal artist is dismissive, but he visibly preoccupies himself with his music, and for good reason. His latest project, titled THe LYONZ, is an intimate rapper-producer collaboration with his close friend Anthony Salvo, a student at Concordia completing a BFA in Electroacoustic Studies.

In an interview with Forget the Box, Richardson explains that Salvo engineers the beats and he “Just feels it and lays it down.” On their relationship, he comments, “We have a really good bond. I guess its because we’re really good friends before the music. He’s like my brother outside the whole music thing. The chemistry is really nice.”

That emotional bond pays off live. Seeing THe LYONZ perform their debut album Peace Beyond the Pines feels only one step removed from a casual jam session amongst friends, yet something sets them apart. Even if Richardson is rapping to a small group in the semi-darkness of a Mile End dive bar, he still brings a star quality to his performance. Maybe it’s his disgustingly hip sense of fashion or passionate delivery, but Richardson possesses an innate stage presence that’s mesmerizing to watch.

You might recognize Terrell from his performances with Big Dreams, his regular crew. He’s the cerebral-yet-sensitive type in a group of more truculent performers. It was only a matter of time before he branched out and explored his low key vibe. He describes the birth of the project as an escape from the craziness of the city into the backwoods of Quebec with Salvo. They stayed for a week and returned with Peace Beyond the Pines. “We laid down everything with the trees when we were beyond the pines, when we found our peace and laid everything down on our mind,” says Richardson.

Feel the Pain is the standout track on the album. Featuring gorgeous vocal hooks by Eric Séguin of Raveen, the recording plays well and the track packs a soft punch of nostalgia and quiet determination live. It also allows Richardson to flex his technical muscles, as he slides triplets and syncopation into his delivery almost effortlessly. The final product is a genre-spanning crooner that gently surrounds the audience with peaceful intimacy, if only fleeting.

Peace Beyond the Pines is a promising start for the Montreal artists. Their willingness to create at the intersection of multiple genres will net them a rare marketability when the time comes. But for now, Richardson and Salvo are content with letting their talent speak for itself and fill venues through word-of-mouth; keeping it intimate, keeping it pure.