Will humans ever find the meaning of love?
That’s a difficult question but listening to ‘Freudian’, Daniel Caesar’s spectacular debut album must be a part of the answer. Freudian is a beautiful insight into our deepest, most fundamental feelings and is the latest project of the rather active Caesar.
Fusing together tracks such as: Get You (feat Kali Uchis), Blessed and We Find Love that were released earlier in year to much acclaim as well as an entirely new body of work cement this 22-year-old Toronto native as a vibrant voice of new-school alternative RNB. 2017 has seen an explosion of alternative RNB, soul, funk and jazz, and what Caesar has done is much like his namesake, conquer the field for himself.
It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t seen his fair share of romance and heartbreak for his lyrics strike a chord far too loud to be just be a vapid commercial try. I just don’t hear that hunger for fame and fortune in Caesar’s voice, rather his smooth tones and beautiful crooning are an authentic insight with one’s innermost thoughts on love, religion, and the mind.
There has been much growth from his previous EP Pilgrim’s Paradise and a new direction contrasted with the religious tone previously explored. I’m not a psychologist but I’m aware Sigmund Freud’s work concerned the presence of innate drives and fixations, obsessions and the ego. Encompassing romance, lust, break-ups and fights, sex and eroticism, flirtation and sorrow, could it be that the various elements of love are what Daniel Caesar is portraying?
The album redefines love for a new generation, and much like the album cover art which displays Caesar climbing uphill a steep, metallic structure, highlights the difficulties in finding that wholesomeness you can only achieve in someone else.
Freudian album cover
The album starts in familiar territory with the earlier released track, Get You (feat. Kali Uchis). This collaboration combines the talents of the eccentric beauty and tone of Kali Uchis with Caesar’s idiosyncratic soulful yet almost country-esque voice and in this song, his full-throated desire for his imaginary lover. The chorus lyrics of ‘Who might have thought I’d get you?’ were especially touching for me.
When you are victorious in your battle to secure the girl (or guy) you want, the feeling is inimitable, and in Caesar’s words we hear that happiness over what he has accomplished. A touch of reality sobers the ecstasy of the song as Uchis slides in and states ‘before it winds down into the memories, it’s all just memories…’ Does love ever truly last? Or is the real beauty in that single, fleeting moment of unparalleled joy?
I can’t lie, I was in my feels throughout Best Part (feat H.E.R), the second song on the album. Despite being very much an enigmatic mystery, whatever H.E.R touches becomes emotional and the tears that will be shed to this song will definitely not be mysterious. This song is the feeling of consummation in a relationship, wherein all is pure, perfect and beautiful.
If love is a drug and it definitely is, then Caesar is wholly addicted with ‘you’re my water when I’m stuck in the desert, you’re the Tylenol I take when my head hurts, you’re the sunshine on my life.’
This felt like the stage of the relationship wherein the lovers feel completion and song itself had that vibe, with the completion being the two soft voices of Caesar and H.E.R complementing each other so beautifully, or in her/H.E.R words ‘it’s the sweetest’. Deffo getting played at my wedding.
With Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song), we see the bittersweet side of love, this song is the cheater’s remorse. The dark reality behind the kisses, romance and beauty is the ever-presence of lust. Love creates a dream-like state, a rose-tinted reality and the first verse of this song matches that unnatural phase with a mournful female voice alongside Caesar’s murmured backing vocals.
The pleading verse of ‘when your fragile world was crashing down around you, you realised your place, and the darkness that you try so hard to subdue, it causes you to change.’
That’s what cheating does, the betrayal hurts such that whatever innocence one has, is lost. This song switches up style rapidly, from a hymn of sorts to a jazzy beat and Caesar sings frankly “But my niggas don’t hold me tight, when I’m sleeping in my bed at night, only you. Babe, I know I f***** up F***** with some empty cups,”
Whether his boys were a bad influence or alcohol caused his f**k up, Caesar can’t resist a truth while begging for her back, she had “her friends too.” Dysfunctional love-lives are very 2017.
I was very excited to hear Take Me Away (feat Syd) was involving Syd the Kid, another powerful singer and hearing that first ‘Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy creation. See what Jah has done’ was the intro that we needed. On this track, I could appreciate the album name Freudian more, eroticism and sexual desire play a part in this song, Caesar wants the pleasure and fun of that “loud pack” and “every time she throws that ass back” to take him away. If love is a rollercoaster, then this a ride that we should close our eyes and just enjoy.
Someone definitely needs to tell Daniel Caesar that his features are a work of art in themselves because the addition of Charlotte Day Wilson on Transform was a masterful choice. The song brings to life the playful fun of flirting and seduction, his battle to attract his lover’s attention is akin to a beast and if ‘we don’t punish the tiger for catching its prey. So how am I to blame?’. Caesar and Wilson vibe together on this track to the benefit of us listeners and their interpretation of love is that it’s a game and “it’s never over until life ends.” Indeed, it never is.
This album was conducted from start to finish with skill and thought, it was poetic and beautiful, it was intimate and meaningful, it was sorrowful and heart-rending. It was a journey throughout love as both a concept and an experience. What I think is evident now, with instant classic songs ranging from Neu Roses to Transform and Best Part and the outro masterpiece Freudian, 2017 has its own “violet in the sun.”