A Muse In Her Feelingsis far from minimalistic — wanting you to feel everything all at once in different places. Throughout the album, I never wandered, only following dvsn lead…”
Living between both hip-hop and R&B is exactly where dvsn likes to be.
The Toronto-based collective of producer Nineteen85 and singer Daniel Daley thrive on being more concise than most, sequencing sounds that best fit their constant blend of the two genres. On their third official release A Muse In Her Feelings, dvsn finds themselves further along the path they paved in 2016 — staying true to themselves while venturing into uncharted territory.
The duo’s debut album SEPT. 5TH introduced their formidable presence, as Daley’s passionate vocal range complements Nineteen85’s soulfully melodic production in a way where it’s almost hard to not be enticed. It’s a balance; where both sides of dvsn perfectly align throughout. On top of Daley’s intimately talented register, the Drake-headed OVO Sound veterans not only restated their stage presence in their latest studio release, but turned over a great third act in the process.
Woozy, reflective and yearning, this sound is what drew me in four years ago — praising the production of SEPT. 5TH only to soon realize the pair’s pure potential. Daley is impossible to miss: Bursting to the heavens, singing with seemingly every fiber in his being. His range is undeniable, effortlessly elevating Nineteen85’s 80s-style synths and hard-hitting percussion. The differing layers to this project are ultimately seen on the forefront of the artwork, as dvsn alludes to the album’s “stripped” nature.
I had mixed emotions going into this album. A part of me was more excited to see how dvsn would evolve. Captured by the duo’s evocation of emotions like lost love, wistful longing and reflective self-definition, this is what kept me wanting more. In every facet of their musicality, dvsn strikes the right chords both in heart and soul. They “Do It Well” in every regard. On the other hand, a part of me felt as though dvsn would come up short in their efforts to evolve because of their limited fan base. Racking up 140,000 followers on Twitter, that is lowest amount among other OVO Soundartists, with PARTYNEXTDOOR (PND) totaling over 1.5 millon. The second lowest is Majid Jordanwith over 303,000 followers. While this could be an affect of dvsn’s lack of follower base, this in turn becomes a label issue — seeing as though the most attention from OVO Sound (other than Drake) stems from PND.
Touting top features in PND, Future, Summer Walker, Ty Dolla $ign and Jesse Reyez — all known for their Hip-Hop/R&B crossovers — feed into dvsn’s effective blend of genres and underlying motives. Both of their previous albums were featureless, as Daley and Nineteen85 preferred to take the lead on introducing themselves initially. However, change was needed. It was time for dvsn to break throughand attach their nameto some of hip-hop and R&B’s heavy hitters. Essentially, it’s time to try and chart.
It had been nearly three years since their sophomore effort Morning After, and although dvsn’s able to seperate themselves from your typical R&B artist, expectations may have been muddied with time. But, reserving those feelings ultimately set me up for something I had hoped for. Emotional and wholehearted, A Muse In Her Feelingswas a subtle reminder of their debut release, but seemed to point to incorporate other artists and genre blends. Doubting of love and insightful self-reflection serves as a key theme yet again in a dvsn record — surprisingly throwing a changeup boasting New Orleans bounce patterns andhip-hop influenced melodies.
This record was not without its twists and turns. The prominent use of transitions in between tracks created an atmospheric elongation of sorts, interweaving each song to further connect the album’s natural and “stripped” undertones. Jumping from woozy R&B (No Good) to sampled trap ensembles — reminiscint of J. Cole and 21 Savage’s “a lot” (Still Pray for You) — their versatility undeniably shines throughout.
While Daley is able to hit every note he intends to, it’s no surprise he boasts his range. However, this surprise on Popcaan assisted “So What” and Buju Banton/Ty Dolla $ign featured “Dangerous City,” dvsn explores an underwater reggae further showcasing their ability to be more than just what they’re perceived to be.
Tracks “Outlandish,” “Keep It Going” and “Flawless, Do It Well, Pt. 3” are the most prime examples of the aforementioned use of impactful transitions. Daley croons off-handedly from what feels like a bar, singing: “room full of people but I feel like we’re alone.” striving to continue the party with someone new. On “Keep it Going,” dvsn does just that. Jabbing chord progressions swell into a fist-pump breakdown, willingly tugging you to a dance floor with no return. Seamless transition is key to the album’s framework, and on ‘Flawless, Do It Well, Pt. 3,” both Daley and Summer Walker triumphantly complement their vocal prowess.
Warmly arrayed guitars mixed with trumpets on top of bouncy trap and dance percussion, the back-and-forth between differing vibes is the icing on the cake and ‘Flawless’ in its own right. Daley’s flow on the hook is worth taking note of on both ends of the switch-up.
Previously seeking an evolution in their trademark sound, dvsn wooed with upbeat soulful progressions paired with New Orleans bounce. Daley is easily the star of the show, as dvsn seems to have made him the focal point in reminding listeners who they are and where they’ve been. Utilizing common sounds found in the current landscape of R&B music, dvsn’s newfound features, song structure and lyricism ultimately sets this album a part from your traditional R&B project.
A Muse In Her Feelingsis far from minimalistic — wanting you to feel everything all at once in different places. Throughout the album, I never wandered, only following dvsn’s lead in their storytelling ability. Feeling completely unearthed and intrigued which each passing track, dvsn brings forth an album that, in my mind, completes a triple of modern R&B classics.
Here’s hoping they go four-for-four in their next at-bat.
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