Ever met a person you thought would be your perfect partner? Every conversation you’ve both had can best be described as the perfect blend of acidity and sweetness like a fine bottle of Riesling. They must also be part-time mind readers because they know exactly what to say and when to say it, leaving you with butterflies in places that make you feel grown-ish. The feelings from both parties seemed to be mutual but for some reason, there was no getting out of the “going with the flow” phase even after a couple of years? Hmm… sounds like a dvsn record to me.
Nostalgic R&B rhythms, coupled with provocatively explicit lyrics are well-known signatures of alternative R&B Toronto natives Daniel Dailey (singer) and Nineteen85 (producer) the duo better known as dvsn. Just like an unexpected summer fling, we were teased on September 5th, 2015 with two songs, “The Line,” and “With me” from their debut album which will go on to also be titled “Sept. 5th.” Almost instantly, they had us eating out of the palm of their hands like lovestruck teenagers, because we subconsciously longed for music that was not only erotic but romantic. Melodies that made you feel like your partner would, at any moment, be outside your window in the rain holding up an oddly large radio in attempts to woo you just ‘cause it’s Tuesday. Songs that made you feel spontaneous like Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married,” or sexy like Genuwine’s “In Those Jeans.” Better yet, songs that made you feel loved like “Back at One” by Brian Mcknight and “Suga Suga” by Baby Bash and Frankie J. You know, songs that made you think that love should always feel like silk and taste like honey.
It is now 5 years later, and what was once a summer fling has now become a situation-ship. Lucky number 3 “A Muse In Her Feelings” stays true to the signature dvsn sound and themes such as; love, lust, and heartbreak but also relays a different narrative to its listeners…accountability. Well, sorta. Our introduction to the album “No Good” in true dvsn fashion speaks on why “love don’t live here no more.” Though this time around, he alludes to the feeling you get when you know you’ve done all you can and it still does not seem to be good enough (high-key relatable). As Daniel’s sultry vocals continue to explore relational loneliness, his falsettos are supported by soft drums and what seems to be retro Yamaha-style electric keys.
Asides from actually putting in effort in this relationship, another first for this duo is entertaining the idea of collaborations. The project hosts 9 incredible artists who serve as icing on what would have already been an incredibly enticing cake. We get a very traditional PARTYNEXTDOOR on “Friends.” This hood love note cautions his love interest as “she be keeping her ears too deep into the streets,” when she needs to simply focus on what they have when they have it, also known as…we have a good thing going, we don’t need to be exclusive.
The Morning After album teased dvsn‘s interest in more uptempo tracks but A Muse In Her Feelings follows through on a larger scale. A few records could easily be described as club anthems such as; Dangerous City (ft Ty Dolla $ign & Buju Banton) and So What (ft Popcaan) which give us a taste of their Caribbean heritage, Outlandish, Keep It Going (heavily influenced by the New Orleans Bounce) and No Cryin’ (ft Future) which sounds like a more subtle rendition of Drake’s “Nice 4 What,” as they attempt to provide a Zelda the good witch-esque pep talk, to paraphrase “girl, you can do bad all by yourself.”
Speaking of badass females, this album does not fall flat on that front as we find Jessie Reyez on Courtside and Summer Walker on Flawless. Both records push through sonically smooth female anthems, oozing out women empowerment both financially and sexually via making it clap or finessing a baller or two.
“Let me start by saying sorry,” from a man? shocking! Snoh Aalegra tag teams on a smooth R&B sample of Usher’s “Nice & Slow”. Between Us emphasizes a heavy push and pull that makes for a good Luv Jones moment. The ride ends with a timeless love ballad featuring dvsn’s backup singer Shantel May. “…Again.” speaks to the renewal of the love shared between two partners as they fully show up in their relationship… again.
After A Muse In Her Feelings, it seems as though this 5-year romance is now solidified. This body of work does not fail to expose us to harmonious vulnerability that plucks on our heartstrings while simultaneously providing songs that keep our bodies jumping. What I am most proud of is the growth shown through the exploration of new sounds as well as intricate penmanship. This album introduces us to a more mature dvsn, a more emotionally intelligent dvsn or maybe I’m wrong, maybe these songs are just a compilation of work screaming out the sad truth, “I’m using her feelings.”
PS- This album will be a cult fave for a slightly improved Lawrence from Insecure.
Pam is a black female stylist in Toronto who draws inspiration from music, art and architecture. She also runs a small wellness program for women of colour, which strives to provide a safe space for validation and growth.