Music is a cycle. In a millennial’s lifetime, we’ve seen the rise and fall of several genres, most notably and most recently, EDM’s moment in the sun as the genre of popular choice. Even big clubs are keeping it half and half with lots of R&B and plenty of West Coast Classics, and now past genres are resurfacing and regaining popularity. Freudian by Daniel Caesar is one of those albums riding the wave of resurgence, chock full of gospel influence and slow R&B jams, singing in acapella on the beauty of love.
It comes as no surprise that the debut album’s major theme is rooted in Caesar’s background in gospel, very apparent in Get You. “Through drought and famine, natural disasters/ My baby has been around for me,” the scale of turmoil is reflective of Bible-level disasters, hyperbolic enough that they’re there for each other through the worst of times. The framework set by the opening song resonates throughout the album, although it delves deeper into the spiritual experience that love provides, only to be tainted by human errors.
Best Part is one of the album’s more innocent tracks, talking about the simplicities of enjoying each other’s company and appreciating one another’s presence. A guest vocal appearance by H.E.R keep the song from being viewed only on Caesar’s side of things, focusing on both sides and mutual appreciation of each other, highlighted by harmonisation that occurs throughout the song.
Blessed manages to twist religious influences and converse on relationships in one song; piano takes the front seat while the organs sit at the back. The song plays out on duality, one way, one can interpret a love and longing for a significant other, another a confession to the Almighty, an imperfect being committing sins, but is blessed that God is the one that he turns to for help. Even in the first verse, the direction is clear, “Everywhere that I go, everywhere that I be/If you were not surrounding me with your energy/I don’t wanna be there, don’t wanna be anywhere/Any place that I can’t feel you, I just wanna be near you.”
A major part of the album’s musicality and tonality can be attributed to the CaDaRo Tribe, whose fantastic vocals breathe angelic life into his songs, especially in Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song). Credit where it’s due, a supposedly spiritual genre fused with modern essence of romanticism is something very new, even now.
Daniel Caesar has managed to carve himself a niche with this debut LP. Beautiful sounding, soulful, it’s one not to be missed, and is easily one of this year’s best releases. If Caesar continues in this vein, it’ll be soon before long that he makes his mark as one of the R&B greats.