Daniel Caesar, Freudian | Album Review
Canadian R&B newcomer Daniel Caesar shows incredible potential on his debut album, ‘Freudian,’ which fuses love and spirituality.
The time has come for R&B newcomer Daniel Caesar. What time? The time to release his debut album, Freudian. The title alone should draw attention to the 22-year old Canadian singer/songwriter. Canadian R&B has been hot as of late, and Caesar continues to the trend. On Freudian, he fuses love and spirituality seamlessly. Artistically, he showcases the utmost potential, never missing the mark.
“Get You” featuring Kali Uchis serves as a soulful, sensual album opener. While “Get You” hearkens back to the past, it doesn’t do so anachronistically. Vocally, Daniel Caesar delivers a balanced, complete performance, never under- nor over-singing. A single that was released far in advance of Freudian, it sounds as fresh as it did upon its low-key release. Uchis plays a minimal, but effective role.
“Best Part” featuring H.E.R. follows, keeping the tempo slow and the mood sensual. Guitar accompaniment helps to establish a simple, romantic vibe. The vocal chemistry between Caesar and H.E.R. is top-notch. “Hold Me Down” follows, characterized by its lushness and gospel sensibilities. The gospel can be attributed to Kirk Franklin, whose “Hold Me Now” fuels the fire for Caesar. It’s blatantly obvious towards the end, when the melody of the song serves as the melody of “Hold Me Down.” Three songs in, Daniel Caesar is on fire, in spite of the slow pacing of Freudian.
“Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song)”
The pacing remains slow on “Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song),” yet another number where spirituality plays a key role. Initially, its vocals only, before the groove kicks in. With the entrance of the groove, “Neu Roses” gets a newfound toughness – more aggression from Caesar. This toughness includes the n-word as well as the f-bomb. It’s a clear contrast to what that precedes it.
“Loose” continues on in a slow, thoughtful, and spiritual sound. Listening to the rich instrumental and Caesar’s vocals, it sounds like the altar call or invitation at a church service. There’s almost the sense that Caesar is petitioning to God, even though this is all about love and relationships.
“We Find Love”
The gospel sensibility on grows deeper on a pair of excellent numbers – “We Find Love” and “Blessed.” “We Find Love” gives Freudian a bit more oomph, only pushing the tempo up a few beats per measure. It’s still slow, but there’s greater intensity and greater confidence and presence from Caesar here. Beautiful choral vocals amplify the record to the nth degree, blurring the lines between urban contemporary and contemporary black gospel. “Blessed” is a natural follow-up, pulling things back, but not compromising quality or energy for that matter. By the end, the spirit is lofty.
“Take Me Away”
On the soulful, cool “Take Me Away” Caesar enlists Syd, making a formidable music pairing. What stands out here is how easy and effortless Caesar makes singing sound. The same can be said of Syd, who sounds a cool as a cucumber. Keeping in step with his previous songs, “Transform” once more pairs Caesar with a female collaborator, this time, Charlotte Day Wilson. Like everything else that precedes, the penultimate record is a success. Lovely vocals, slow, soulful, lush production, and well-rounded songwriting.
Title track “Freudian” concludes Freudian, clocking in at an ambitious ten-minutes-plus. The reason why it last so long is because there’s an embedded track at the end. It’s a fitting closer, but doesn’t eclipse the earlier gems. Still the vibe is killer.
Ultimately, Daniel Caesar is an R&B artist to watch. He shines throughout the course of Freudian, fusing love and spirituality seamlessly. The few instances of profanity weren’t even necessary. When you have the substance and talent that Caesar shows throughout this album, there’s no need to get dirty. Definitely one of the best R&B albums of the year, as well as one of the best albums of the year.
Gems: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “We Find Love,” “Blessed” & “Take Me Away”