As Dillo Day approaches, we’re getting closer and closer to hearing Daniel Caesar’s soulful voice in person. Caesar is an artist who fluidly mixes genres; from R&B to blues, he communicates themes of passion, longing and faith with nuance. Here’s five songs that exhibit the depth and vulnerability of Caesar’s music.
1. “Japanese Denim” reflects on whether love can really last forever. Caesar starts by describing his relationship as blissful: crooning, “I’m so in love, so in love.” As time goes on, however, he realizes that even the one he loves doesn’t truly know him. He crosses R&B and blues on this track, featuring a continuous lead guitar rhythm and funky bass that complements his jazzy diction.
2. One of his best-known tracks, “Get You (feat. Kali Uchis)” is another song that deals with love, but with sexier undertones. He praises a love he feels he doesn’t deserve, accentuating his gratitude to his lover with religious references: “Kingdoms have fallen, angels be calling, none of that could ever make me leave.” Despite all the chaos in the world, he’s devoted. Kali Uchis’ verses create a call-and-response, making the song feel like a conversation between lovers.
3. On “Hold Me Down,” Caesar’s gospel influences shine through. In the first part of this song, he’s begging for validation, asking his lover to say she loves him if she means it. This is accompanied by a faster, slightly frantic bassline and background vocalizations that hint at a soon-to-come response to his insecurity. He’s called out by his lover, who’s been holding it down for him already. Caesar then interpolates Kirk Franklin’s “Hold me Now,” asking if his lover will stay true.
4. “Death & Taxes” more directly addresses Caesar’s loss of faith. He again employs a blues sound, lamenting over the taxes of religion. He knows that there are “only two things in this life that are sure,” and therefore there’s no reason to repent for his sins. He emphasizes his higher register on this song, breathily enunciating each line as if he’s finally free from something that had been weighing him down.
5. “We Find Love” is slightly spiteful, yet hopeful in the aftermath of a break-up. The instrumentation and harmonies ooze gospel as he repeats, “We find love, we get up.” It’s almost as if he’s trying to convince himself that despite his emotional turmoil, he can pretend he’s fine until he’s actually fine. This interplay of peace and fragility further highlights the emotional brevity of Caesar’s work.
It’s not clear what songs Caesar will be playing at Dillo, but these tracks introduce the main themes in Caesar’s music while showcasing his musical skill. No matter what he plays, Dillo will be in for a sonically diverse R&B and soul experience.