A few months ago, I wrote a piece for Vibe Fridays: Daniel Caesar – Get You. In it I talked about Daniel Caesar, a relatively unknown from Toronto with buttery smooth vocals, church background, and soulful lyrics about love and life. Today I’ll talk about his debut album, Freudian.
Let me say this clearly. Daniel Caesar has one of the best albums of 2017. Lyrics, mood, vocal capability, cohesiveness, presence, and guest features all fit nicely within the 45-minute runtime.
Freudian starts off strongly with “Get You” that I spoke about previously. It still hypnotizes me and reminds me of love in a smoke-filled bar. “Best Part” features the phenomenal H.E.R. that I’ve written about twice. H.E.R.’s voice is so elegant, and pairs nicely with the acoustic guitar in duet with Daniel Caesar. It definitely gives me the feeling of D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill’s “Nothing Even Matters”. It’s my favorite “wake up dreaming about love” song on the album.
“Hold Me Down” is a supremely interesting song with Daniel asking his girl to support him and tell him how much she loves him, then there is a unique change. We hear vocals by three young ladies (Cadaro Tribe) which elevates the track to a soft, yet melancholy point ending in the artists and Daniel singing an extrapolation of “Hold Me Now“ by Kirk Franklin together.
“Hold Me Down” leads into “Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song)” with the sounds rich, and layered as an amazing a capella group until D’Angelo’s funk kicks in. Daniel talks about how he should have broken up and left this girl a long time again. It feels great.
“Loose” comes straight out of church, but with a side of heartbreak and talking yourself into breaking up with a young woman. Its arrangement is heartbreaking, yet beautiful as it transitions seamlessly into “We Found Love”. It is a remarkably uptempo song reminiscent of the failed relationship mentioned previously.
“We Found Love” sounds like the spirit of John Legend took over the album for a few brief moments. I would love to hear them duet this as it also references “We Fall Down“ by Donnie McClurkin. The trio of songs telling a story ends with “Blessed”. The song finishes with an absolutely gorgeous choir and piano breakdown alongside lyrics of him returning to her after both of their foolishness.
“Take Me Away” ft. Syd returns to love with a funky electric guitar break and classic drum pattern from The Internet. It’s a comforting ballad with Syd adding her gentle soprano to whisk you away. I spoke on my love of her singing in my review of Fin, but it still continues strong here.
“Transform” ft. Charlotte Day Wilson still floats with the neo-soul drum pocket, but Daniel does more falsetto work as Charlotte’s deeper and more powerful register is balanced. Charlotte is a much more powerful singer than the ladies featured earlier in the album, and nothing is overwhelmed here.
“Freudian“ finishes the album with the sound of summer crickets and thanking a woman for saving his life. Throughout the entire album he brings gospel to love. He looks towards this woman who has “saved his soul like Jesus”. Daniel was homeless and close to suicide before this point in his life. He continuously thanks this woman for being God’s face when he lost his faith. The interesting duality is that he’s talking to his mother in one verse, his girlfriend in another, and alternates between the two by the end. Make sure to play until the end to hear an additional outro.
Freudian is a phenomenal example of an album with a completely solid concept and direction that easily makes it one of my top album choices of 2017. Daniel Caesar made very purposeful decisions to only bring in women for this album’s vocals to make a statement about the title.
Freudian is about him falling in love while looking for someone who will take care of him. Similar to what Sigmund Freud called the Oedipus Complex, in which a male child grows up wanting to marry his mother and kill the father. This is similar to what is learned and told through this story. Daniel finds love in the comfort of a woman, but he looked at her merely as a means to fulfill his needs instead of loving her as a person. He eventually matures and realizes the flaws in his behavior and thinking. He finally goes back to his girlfriend and sees her as a unique person that deals with her own struggles instead of just someone to clean his messes. It’s a poetic and amazing album that is a must listen.
Turn Your Music Up!