Daniel Caesar, the R&B artist on the rise

Maanasi Natarajan, Opinion Editor

  Move over, The Weeknd.

 Toronto’s got a new star. Ashton Simmonds, known now as Daniel Caesar, has amassed a dedicated following ensuing the release of his debut album, “Freudian.”

  And for good reason.

 Caesar possesses the rare talent of pulling on just the right heartstrings to leave his listener in a puddle of emotions, which can be attributed to his tender, sincere tone and, largely, to his strong gospel background. While many would describe Caesar’s music as “depressing” due to the deep emotion in his voice, the album does not hold an ounce of malice or aggression – simply the inner workings of his heart.

 His affectionate voice couples flawlessly with the slow, soulful album, which explores the stages of love – the infatuation, the passion, the crushing defeat of separation, and the reflection.

  However, Caesar is no stranger to the spotlight. He first rose to fame following the release of his 2015 EP, Pilgrim’s Paradise. His passionate cover of “Street Lights” from Kanye West’s “808’s and Heartbreaks” was renamed “Streetcar” and slowed down to an emotional track about the fear of what lies ahead, while “A Cappella” showcased his impressive vocals over intricate harmonies.

  Longtime R&B fans immediately took to the purity of his music, which compares to that of Frank Ocean’s and lacks the fantastical perspective, superiority complex, and “sing-rapping” that today’s contemporary R&B is known for.

  “Freudian” unveils a new dimension of Daniel Caesar’s musicianship, one whose stylistic evolution throughout the album parallels that of the journey through a relationship. To begin, Caesar collaborates with soul singer Kali Uchis in “Get You”, an uptempo single about the honeymoon phase.

 This contrasts the passionate love song with fellow R&B artist H.E.R. that follows – “Best Part” – in which he sings to his lover, “You’re the water when I’m stuck in the desert/You’re the Tylenol I take when my head hurts/You’re the sunshine of my life.”

  The album then explores the emotions that accompany a love lost in “Neu Roses (Transgressors Song)” and “We Find Love”, in which Caesar, along with his backing gospel choir, manages to sing the words “You don’t love me anymore, let’s see how you like this song” without the slightest bit of scorn and with utmost compassion in his voice.

  In the final songs of the album, Caesar combines all the phases into one wonderfully disheveled package – a true testament to love in its purest form.

 For example, “Blessed”, a sort of gentle ballad, acknowledges the importance of loving someone despite their flaws. Caesar concludes the album with the song bearing the same name, in which he declares to his lover “You are the reason, the reason I sing/I have to preserve you ‘cause you’re my everything.”

  Although Daniel Caesar’s career has just begun, he is already captivating the hearts of many. He has been dubbed “the next Frank Ocean” and his work has received high critical acclaim.

 While “Freudian” is not a particularly flashy album, it is full of detail that sneaks into the soul of anyone who has ever been in love. In fact, the subtleties and nuances are what makes it so beautiful – as is the case in both music and love.