R&B | alternative pop
Golden Child Recordings
toronto r&b singer daniel caesar bares his soul on his debut full length release ‘freudian’
By Nathan Leigh
August 30, 2017
There’s something cinematic, or maybe theatrical, about Daniel Caesar’s debut full length. With a deep emotional scope and difficult introspection, the Toronto R&B singer weaves a narrative about failed love and missed opportunity. Characters weave in and out, courtesy of album-highlight guest spots from Syd, H.E.R., Kali Uchis, and Charlotte Day Wilson, while Freudian arcs towards a heartbreaking conclusion.
Though Caesar has previously expressed his desire to move away from love songs, he does an impressive job detailing nuances of the sunny days, the late night fights, the break-ups, the rebounds, and the 3 am texts. Starting with earnest love songs “Get You” and “Best Part,” with each song, the album moves towards an irreconcilable difference. Gospel melodies battle deep grooves for Caesar’s soul. Guitar licks snake around draped in reverb making D’Angelo jealous at not coming up with them first. The first hints of drama pop up in “Hold Me Down.” Lines like “I know you had your dreams of a better life / this time we ain’t making it through” are buried in choruses of “If you love me baby, let me hear you say it / I know I’m your favorite.”
By the time the impressive “We Find Love” shows up, she’s walking out the door, and all Caesar can ask is “wonder why it took you so long.” The chorus kicks in. Your heart just dies. I’m not crying. You’re crying. Luckily Syd shows up for the rebound anthem “Take Me Away.” On the Charlotte Day Wilson featuring “Transform,” Daniel Caesar stares into the abyss asking if it isn’t really everyone else’s fault that his relationships fail. It’s their fault for loving him in the first place. It’s a beautiful song hiding a look at the ugliest part of him. But that’s sort of the point of Freudian. As the name points out, it’s a self-psychoanalysis. It’s Caesar’s attempt to piece together what went wrong, and why it keeps going wrong, to his credit coming up with more questions than answers. It’s the rare album that rises above a collection of singles and into something larger. What I’m saying is, dear screenwriters and / or playwrights: please turn this into the soundtrack to something. It already kind of is.
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