2017 has been filled with amazing releases for R&B. From SZA’s CTRL to Khalid’s American Teen, new artists have been emerging with music that has shaped a new wave and take on classic R&B. Daniel Caesar’s debut album Freudian is no exception, and in my eyes deserves much more recognition than it’s currently receiving.
Like many of its contemporaries, Freudian details the trials and tribulations of navigating romantic relationships; he focuses on all the good, the bad and the ugly. Starting with the first single “Get You” and “Best Part,” Caesar begins the journey with sweet songs of tender emotion that give you the warm feeling of entering a relationship and yearning for your significant other’s love and affection at all times. The album then turns to discuss mixed signals, betrayal, and heartbreak in tracks three to five. He discusses the sad reality of forfeiting relationships next in “We Find Love,” and developing the emotional connection again in “Blessed.”
Caesar’s sound and lyrical prowess carry a kind of raw emotion that is hard to come by. Paired with acoustics and seemingly flawless vocals, his striking lyrics shine through in every song he makes. In the title track “Freudian,” Caesar laments “Isn’t it nice? / Human sacrifice / I take the easy way out every time/ I don’t deserve my own life.” A lyric so simple yet so striking. Caesar’s sound reminds me a lot of fellow R&B crooner and one of my favorite artists, Frank Ocean. Ironically, listening to “Freudian” for the first time I immediately felt as I did listening to “Futura Free” from Frank’s album Blond. “Futura Free” is also ten minutes long like “Freudian,” and they both feature long pauses of silence and spoken word. Clearly, great minds think alike.
My favorite aspect of the album is the presence of a wide variety of female vocals woven in almost every song of the album. Kali Uchis, Syd, H.E.R. and Charlotte Day Wilson all have extremely different sounds yet all add rich, feminine tones that create depth that pairs well with Caesar’s smooth vocals. Daniel Caesar also utilized the choir CaDoRo Tribe, that is featured on half of the album. Though reflected through his lyrics, Caesar’s use of the choir once again allows his music to transcend the boundaries of R&B by incorporating gospel elements. Gospel also shines through with the use of organs and piano throughout the album.
The best way I could describe this album overall is as a genuine journey, musically and emotionally. One of my friends who I introduced Freudian to actually told me it was “one of the most life-changing things for me in a while.” On the album cover, you see Caesar depicted climbing up a hill. Listen to the album and take that journey with him.