Nobody writes about love quite like Daniel Caesar. With a signature capacity for sending even the most cynical plunging into the depths of their feelings, even when his latest album, CASE STUDY 01 feels determined to stretch into new territory, Caesar still manages to remain rooted in romance.
His first album Freudian is arguably one of the most heavenly releases of recent years. Endearingly tender, its dreamlike perspective planted it firmly in the hearts of many listeners. Without a doubt, CASE STUDY 01 is a strong album, but it doesn’t quite touch on the absolute excellence of its predecessor. It doesn’t feel quite as cohesive an entire album, and in the first half especially, the songs feel somewhat weak. Much more ambitious than Freudian, it feels a great deal more self-assured, leaving behind the more whimsical qualities Caesar previously possessed.
As the album progresses, however, it becomes increasingly stronger, and the sense of growth over the almost two years since his last album begins to encompass the remainder of the album. Where songs like ‘CYANIDE’ feel as though they fall flat, moments like ‘TOO DEEP TO TURN BACK’ are redemptive.
One of the most beautiful songs on the album also happens to be one of the most exciting collaborations; ‘SUPERPOSITION’, featuring John Mayer, is nothing short of incredible. Mayer has such a distinctive, renowned guitar style, and the way it blends with Caesar’s honeyed vocals is stunning. Perhaps a rogue choice of collaboration, but a fantastic one: the different genres the two work in collide beautifully, and without a doubt it shines amidst the other tracks on the album.
Caesar’s vocals are undoubtedly his saviour; rich and enough to make you melt with just a single note, they carry the album almost completely. In true Daniel Caesar style, there are moments on the album that have you completely swooning. His take on old school hip hop mixed with soul is commendable – sometimes, it works incredibly, such as on ‘LOVE AGAIN’ with the iconic Brandy. However, it isn’t consistent, and whilst on a whole it is a good album, it doesn’t quite reach the soaring heights of his previous works, unfortunately. Freudian set the bar high, possessing a uniquely magical quality that CASE STUDY 01 just seems to miss, leaving Caesar’s second offering somewhat lacking, yet absolutely worthy of at least a listen or two.