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Album Review: dvsn – ‘A Muse in Her Feelings’. Why I believe they have the winning formula and why producers deserve their flowers just as much as singers….

There are few artists that when they release an album you know that you are going to like 90%-100% of the tracks. For me, dvsn are artists that fit into that category. This being their third studio album released on the 17th of April 2020 called ‘A Muse in Her Feelings’. I was excited to listen knowing I would love majority of the songs and I have not been disappointed. The Canadian R&B duo comprises of a singer called Daniel Daley and an incredible producer that goes by the name of Nineteen85. dvsn are signed to Drake’s OVO label and specialise in slow paced r&b/alternative r&b music.

I have been a fan of dvsn after stumbling on their song “Hallucinations” taken from their first studio album ‘September 5th’. The feeling I got from listening to that song for the first time has not been able to be matched. Every single beat on that song hit me. Since then, I’ve been a proud and loud supporter. Nineteen85 for me is one of the best modern producers we have and his production on their songs for me is ALWAYS consistently exceptional. All of this compiled with Daniel’s sensual voice and high notes compliment the production. They are the perfect duo.

For me, it’s only been recently that producers have been appreciated like they should have been. When I listen to music, the first thing that personally grabs me is the production of the song, so why producers are sometimes forgotten baffles me. When it comes to R&B in particular, the best songs are the ones that enable you to feel the emotion being exuded through the singer, sometimes this is impossible without great production. Nineteen85 for me has the cheat code because there is not one badly produced dvsn song. It is very very clear that every song he produces is specifically crafted to fit the theme and it is clear that as a duo, dvsn compliment each-other. A duo with an exceptional producer and an amazing singer sounds like the recipe for success to me. I regularly talk about my love for producers on this blog and I really hope in the future more producers are able to be given their flowers.

In regard to the layout and order of ‘A Muse in her Feelings’, dvsn themselves have explained that the album is separated into 4 sections. The first section being; “In Your Feelings” for the songs 1-5. The second section being “Get Over It” for the songs 6-9. The third section being “3AM: After Ours” for the songs 10 to 14. Finally, the fourth and final section being “Falling in Love…Again” for the final two songs, 15 to 16. The songs under each category reflect the theme. I’ve talked about some key tracks below, have a read and enjoy!

Key Tracks for Me:

‘In Your Feelings’:

  • No Good – This is a great first track for this album. The song starts slow and minimal before the production comes into affect. In this song, it seems he is confused with his feelings and what he wants and is baring it all in the song. This fits in with the “In your Feelings” section as he is definitely feeling some kind of way.
  • Still Pray For You – This is by far one of my favourite songs on this album! I only wish it was a bit longer. The song almost feels like an interlude and feels like a direct message to someone in particular. He just wants her to know that he still prays for the special someone and he has not changed. I like the switch up in sound in the second part of the song too.
  • Miss Me? – This song was previously released before the album came out and if you haven’t rinsed it already, this would be in your top songs for sure. This song is for that person you miss and have trouble asking if they feel the same! haha! very appropriate for this quarantine period. I like Daniel’s lyrics “Soon as I get you out my system, girl, I relapse“, we have all probably been there at some point in our life. I can’t express any more how much Nineteen85’s production always compliments Daniel’s sound so well. In this song, Daniel’s melancholy’s sound is heightened towards the end with the outro.

Get Over It‘:

  • No Cryin Ft. Future – No surprise that the first song from this category features the King of toxic masculinity Future. This song was also released prior to the album release. This song definitely takes on a different mood as Future sings early on; “Ain’t no cryin’ in my Phantom, don’t get no tears on my seats“, showing that he is not showing any sympathy at all. My favourite part of the song however is after his verse when Daniel sings “Yeah, this year you gon’ be selfish” hitting an amazing high note reminding us how talented he really is!
  • Dangerous City Ft. Ty Dolla $ign & Buju Banton– On my first listen for this album, this was the song that grabbed me straight away. This is my favourite featured track on the album and the vibe coming this song is wonderful! Ty Dolla of course always brings heat when he appears on songs and Buju Banton provides us with a reggae/dancehall vibe that I didn’t even realise was missing! The way the beat changes to match Buju on this track is also genius. dvsn are the definition of TALENTED. In terms of musical production, this song is a clear example of how good these two are.
  • Outlandish – This songs sets us up for the song below but still is one of my faves, I like Daniel’s vocals on this one and the outro of the song.

‘3AM: After Ours”:

  • Keep It Going – This song starts with the ending of ‘Outlandish’ and takes a completely different sound from the previous songs. The song is a more upbeat vibe and my favourite lyrics in this would have to be “I can’t lose my mind tryna read somebody else’s“. It feels in this song it’s back to the frustration and confusion of feelings. The backing beat is repetitive but extremely catchy. This is probably the song you’d be dancing to.
  • Between Us Ft. Snoh Aalegra – Honourable mention for this song because it uses a sample of Usher’s 1997 classic song “Nice & Slow.”. As well as the sample, it also flips the chorus from dvsn’s precious 2019 song “In Between.”.

“Falling in Love…Again”

  • For Us – This is a beautiful ode. It feels like a climax to all the back and forth and numerous emotions throughout the beginning of the album. Daniel sings; “I don’t wanna waste a minute of my life without you in it”. It feels this song is the cement in realising how strong his love is for this woman. This song reminds me of an old school R&B song when they used to sing and profess their love and need for their women. Beautiful words in this song. Personally I feel this should have been the last song.
  • …Again Ft. Shantel May – This song should be appreciated for the production. You get an 80’s vibe with this one again showing the versatility that dvsn have. It’s nice to finalise the back and forth with a woman’s perspective too with Shantel’s vocals.

September 5th‘ may still be my favourite album from them (If you have never listened, please have a listen to that album) but make no mistake, this album is also a work of art. I cannot wait to see them appreciated more in the future for the talent they both are.

Have a listen to the album below, I hope you are all able to enjoy it as much as I did:

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Mid Week Update: EP Review: CE – Saint, Vol 1

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a brief review of a project I’ve been recently listening to. The EP is from North West London Singer, rapper and producer CE and was released last week. I’ve previously talked about some his songs before on this blog but I highly recommend this new project from him. The only negative from this project is that I wish there were more than 3 songs on the tape. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts on those 3!

Problems

As soon as I heard the first few seconds of the instrumental to this song I felt like I was in a Narcos film or some Spanish show. The introduction of this song really makes me want to salsa . What I loved most about this song is the surprise at how well CE’s rapping and flow compliments the salsa sounding beat. You would not usually associate a slower paced and calm flow on such an upbeat production but it works so well. I recommend taking in this song with a a very loud sound system and one that can handle base.  CE repeatedly sings “I don’t really wanna spend my time with anyone” and sings “If I made you mine, then you can say I met the one”. Both these lyrics give us the impression CE is quite reserved in his character.  I guarantee this is the song you won’t be able to get out of your head…”I heard you got a problem!!!!!!”.

California

The transition from ‘Problems’ into ‘California’ is perfect when you listen to songs one after another. This song is more upbeat and more base heavy (another one for your sound systems). Following on from him expressing his need for solitude in the previous song, in this song it seems to be that he is addressing someone that he has some complicated history with; “Got me feeling like you never tried to try again”. CE has a good habit of expressing his words clearly but also having their own melodies from them. This is one of those songs that will have you bopping your head to.

Juggin

This is my favourite track from the EP and the content has similar content. Reiterating his point from the first song, CE raps “I don’t really wanna spend my time with anyone”, just in case we forgot! He mentions the US artist Russ in this song and funnily enough they both have similar musical styles. They both have different sounds but both have mastered the ratio of singing and rapping within the melody in their songs. The best lines on this song have to be “& everybody wanna get out of the hood instead of just helping the hood”. Those lines are extremely factual to many people. It is quite common for people who have grown up or lived in unfortunate situations to aspire to leave that area but sometimes also want to forget about it their “hood” when they do. Maybe if more people thought about using their powers or success to help their surroundings they may not feel they need to “escape”.

Overall I would say this EP is really an excellent introduction into the artist CE is. From these 3 songs, you can already tell how versatile he is and how much substance is in his music. The production on all 3 songs is actually top tier. I think there is a song for everyone on this project, even with only 3 tracks. I hope this is the beginning of more music from him and hopefully he releases some visuals to some of these songs! Have a listen to his playlist below to;

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Revisiting Time: Beyoncé – Lemonade

In honor of not only Throwback Thursday but also the joy that Lemonade is FINALLY on Spotify, I wanted to revisit my views on Beyoncé’s most recent solo album. When I first heard this album my compliments were reserved as I was expecting a more upbeat album. However, having had time to digest I feel this album is possibly one of her most powerful, honest and mature albums. I love when songs on an album tell a story via the track listing. Most of the songs on this album follow on and finish off from each other. The album for me screams pain, struggle, loneliness and hopelessness. I’ve named some songs below that I feel are really poignant;

Pray you Catch Me:

The first track from the album as with most intro tracks paints a picture of what the future songs may be about. The title of the song implies vulnerability and is obvious at this point the album will mostly be about her relationship with her husband. The idea she repeatedly sings “Pray to catch you whispering, I pray you catch me listening” implies that she wants her lover to know she is seeing what is happening and is hurting. The song is quite mellow, but you can’t miss the pain that is evident in it. The last lines “What are you doing my love?” show the hopelessness and confusion she has been made to feel from this pain the man who she considers her love.

Hold Up:

This is personally my favourite song from the album. Many people loved the song due to the dramatic video but for me this song shows the depths of Beyoncé vocal ability. Aside from her vocals, we see another side to Beyoncé. Following on from her pleading in the first song she sings “Can’t you see there’s no other man above you? What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you” letting him understand how crazy it is that he would risk ruining the support she gives him. In this song she also ignores her usual politeness and reminds us she’s got a sassy side to her! “I don’t wanna lose my pride, but I’ma fuck me up a bitch”. As of recent Beyoncé has been more free with her language in her songs and this is a prime example. She questions herself as many women would in this situation; “Know that I kept it sexy, you know I kept it fun” meaning that she did everything she thought would be enough and yet he still strayed. Another point to add from this song is that not only is she expressing her love for him, she is also reminding him who was there from the beginning (her). The repeated lines “They don’t love you like I love you” and when she sings “Let’s imagine for a moment that you never made a name for yourself or mastered wealth….Never made it out the cage, never had the baddest woman in the game up in your sheets”. With those lyrics she reminds him that she is a ride or die and has been there despite his wealth unlike the women he has been cheating with. I love the instruments used in this song and the way they compliment the mood of the lyrics.

Don’t Hurt Yourself:

Following on from “Hold Up”, this song is a pure anger that it feels like a venting session. It feels like at this moment of the album, Beyoncé is at breaking point and is just filled with rage. Again, this shows a more explicit version of Beyoncé with the frequent use of swear words. The song reminds me of the tone of her older song “Ring the Alarm”. In the song she sings about the frustration she feels from his lack of trying; “You ain’t trying hard enough, you ain’t loving hard enough” again reiterating the point that the man in question seems to be giving up. The most important words for me in the song come right at the end as she calmly says “If you try this shit again, you gon’ lose your wife”. In all the songs leading up onto these words, she never dropped an ultimatum like that, she usually expressed her anger or hurt or frustration, so those words are quite final and chilling.

Sorry:

This unapologetic anthem is possibly my second favourite song on the album and is another female anthem. This song reminds me of the impact of her song “Irreplaceable” and even many of her Destiny Child’s songs. The song focuses on the aftermaths of a breakup as Beyoncé famously sings “I ain’t sorry”. In the song she encourages women to sing “boy bye” as an act of strength. Towards the end she sings “Me & my baby, we gon’ be alright” implying that she will survive despite the heartbreak she has endured. The song is accompanied by a strong video featuring Serena Williams. For me, the cameo from Serena is quite poignant as during this time and throughout her successful career, Serena has endured so much criticism. The idea of her in this video feels like she is showing how unapologetic she is being who she is.

6 Inch Ft. The Weeknd

While this isn’t one of my favourites, I like the message that is embedded in it. The song is a great motivational song that empowers women. The song uses the setting of a strip club where the woman in question is one of the dancers. In the song she sings “She works for the money, she work for the money” showing that she is there to earn money for the work she is doing. A professional approach to a job, just as everyone else would be in their job. 

Freedom Ft. Kendrick Lamar & Formation 

Similarly to 6 Inch, both songs are another examples of empowering anthems however with also the added focusses on race and black women. For me the visuals that come with Freedom song are powerful as the video features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. The feature from Kendrick is perfect as I couldn’t think of any other rapper that would have done it justice like he did. Formation, another black power anthem references police brutality, race in America while also encouraging women to be strong and “slay”. 

All Night 

This powerful ballad is such a beautiful love song. Another one of my favourites from the album, Beyoncé vocals really shine. With this being the last song on the album alluding to love or even relationships, it can be argued to be a climax. I feel like Beyoncé is comforting her husband in this song and reassuring him “Our love was stronger than your pride. Beyond your darkness, I’m your light”. She expresses how she knows that together they are the best they can be and they are a pair. She further sings “But every diamond has imperfections” which could be a reference to her relationship and how every relationship has flaws. The last line of the song is Beyoncé saying “How I missed you, my love” which is in parallel to her closing line of her first song on the album when she said “What are you doing my love?”. The song can be argued to be the climax to the anguish, pain and suffering she had endured throughout the album.

The album as a whole contains so much emotion and rawness that it’s easy to see how and why it took so long to be released. Hopefully Beyoncé releases a new piece of work soon that can start where this ended, with her in a happier place.