Several projects and singles dropped April 17th. Dvsn’s junior album, A Muse In Her Feelings was the one that stood out the most. The fact that they’re my favorite artists absolutely plays a huge factor in this. The album feels like diversion into a new, more “mainstream” sound for the duo. Yes, let’s set this straight once and for all, dvsn is a group comprised of producer Nineteen85 and singer Daniel Daley. Let’s just say dvsn will definitely be contributing to the quarantine Capricorn and Sag babies, and as a fellow Sag, I’m honored. So, I have the honor of reviewing the album by dividing all the sounds into one of three categories: Straight to Radio, Hidden Gems, or Misses.
Straight to radio
What qualifies a song as Straight to Radio you ask? Well, several factors go into it, but the main factor is how mainstream the song is. Music lovers of all genres will agree that most of the time the songs that land on the radio aren't necessarily the best tracks of the respective albums. These singles are typically more likely to reach across a wider audience than other songs on the album. Now, his is dvsn's first album that includes features from other artists. These artists range from PARTYNEXTDOOR and Ty Dolla $ign to the soulful voices of Snoh Aalegra and Summer Walker. Having popular features increases the traction that the album receives. With that being said, it's no surprise that the majority of the features on "AMIHF" ended up on the straight to radio list. No, this does not mean that the song is bad, it just means the song has a chance at widespread likeability.
1. "Dangerous City" (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Buju Banton)
Wow, I remember first hearing "Dangerous City" on one of Daniel's lives (if you didn't get a chance to tune into at least one you missed out on Daley's wonderous music choice and some juicy storytimes from viewers) and thinking "Yup, this is a summer hit." I imagined myself sipping mimosas as a darty while feelings myself to this track as Daley's soothing falsetto is showcased. Let's face it, anything Ty Dolla $ign features on is an instant hit. He brings this summer '16 aura to every track that we all seem to be chasing; summer '16 seemed to universally be an amazing summer. Couple this with Jamaican recording artist Buju Banton's island vibes and you've got a summer hit folks!
2. "So What" (feat. Popcaan)
Dvsn seems to really be tapping into the Caribbean influence that historically has encompassed their hometown of Toronto as they've collabed with another Jamaican recording artist, Popcaan on this track. Daley sings to his former (?) lover, asking her to get over the small arguments so they can get a little more... ahem... intimate. This is a song that could definitely be blasting on the speakers of cars during a rush-hour jam, allowing for three minutes and 15 seconds of relief. Also, the transition into "Outlandish" is smooth and satisfying.
3. "'Flawless' Do It Well Pt. 3" (feat. Summer Walker)
"Flawless" is a part of a three-song story with a smooth transition from "Keep it Going." It opens up with the line "Can I get Flawless to the stage," in reference to a stripper named Flawless who Daley is serenading. Summer Walker plays with her voice on this track and it pays off. Daley and Walker's perfect harmonies accompanied by the guitar strum beat make this a perfect radio hit.
4. "Between Us" (feat. Snoh Aalegra)
When dvsn released "In Between" alongside "Miss Me?" several months ago as a single, I was so amped for the album, and even included it in my top 12 favorite dvsn songs list (shameless plug). The song was so beautiful and it was instantly added to my R&B playlist. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that it would be replaced by "Between Us" featuring Snoh Aalegra. Out of spite, I didn't listen to it when it dropped in March. Listening to the record as a part of the album, I'm ashamed that I deprived myself of this masterpiece. The track samples Usher's "Nice and Slow" guitar feature and it's so fitting. Daley and Aalegra are lovers who hash out their problems in hopes to "open up and take [their] clothes off."
5. "A Muse"
I was conflicted about whether or not I wanted to include this song on the Straight to Radio list or the Hidden Gems list. It has all the elements to make it a classic dvsn song, but somehow appeals to the masses, sampling Jay-Z's "Dead Presidents." This is one of the only dvsn songs that people instantly fall in love with whenever I play it for them. This track is getting added to intimate plays as we speak as Daley demands his partner to "Arch it up nice and slow." Shivers. I get literal shivers.
6. "Still Pray For You"
“Still Pray for You” is reminiscent of earlier 2000s R&B which is right up the duo’s alley. Daley sings about how small his circle has become the more successful he gets all while “[losing his] dawg the other day.” He wants his ex-lover to know that he hasn’t changed and he still prays for her.
7. "Miss Me?"
This up-tempo track is more “pop” than what the duo’s normal sound is. However, Daley’s voice is the perfect crossover for this kind of track. “Miss Me?” isn’t one of my favorites off the album, but it has the potential to be a radio hit nonetheless.
8. "No Cryin" (feat. Future)
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get acclimated to this song when it first released as a single in October. “No Cryin” felt like such a step away from dvsn’s sound. It was the first song of theirs to have a feature, and Future seemed like such a far fetched artist for the duo to collab with, but after several listens I’ve grown to like it. However, the fact that the track feels more like a Future song featuring dvsn has landed it on the Straight to Radio list.
The Hidden Gems category is reserved for those songs that make you fall in love with an artist. The lesser-known tracks when compared to the Straight to Radio records that make you wonder why they're so underground. The tracks that make you instantly connect with anyone else who knows the song and spark a conversation on music taste. Simply put, the Hidden Gems are the backbone of all albums, including “AMIHF.”
“Outlandish” is the start of the three-part song story mentioned earlier that includes “Keep It Going” and “Flawless.” The transitions between these three songs are brilliant and so seamless that it makes you question when the last song ended and the next began. This record starts off with a very Dancehall-esque feel as Daley asks if it would be “too outlandish” to go the next step with her partner. As I stated on Twitter when the album initially released, “Outlandish” had me in my feelings and then somehow throwing it in a circle during the last thirty seconds. The song transitions into a New Orleans Bounce track as “Keep going” is repeated and smoothly transitions into the next track, “Keep It Going.”
2. "Keep It Going"
These transitions right here are exactly why I’m a huge advocate of listening to albums straight through, no shuffle on the first listen. These well-crafted surprises would be lost on shuffle, and that’s just straight up disrespectful. If I thought “Miss Me?” was a stretch from dvsn’s normal music, boy, was I not prepared for this. This full-on New Orleans Bounce track was so unexpected, yet easily one of my favorites from the album.
“Greedy” is classic dvsn through and through. Daley caresses the listeners lyrically by singing “You’re just a queen on a king bed. I can be your throne for an evening.” This clever play on words within the first 30 seconds immediately caught my attention. Daley lets his partner know that it’s okay for her to be “greedy,” and seek pleasure for herself.
4. "For Us"
This slow track is in line with dvsn’s 90’s R&B lovemaking sound. Daley lets his partner know that he doesn’t want to let her go because she’s his everything. “For Us” will have you thinking deeply about the one you love most. This is another to add to the intimate playlist.
5. "...Again" (feat. Shantel May)
If you don’t know who Shantel May is, I’m telling you now, she’s going places. May is dvsn’s leader background vocalist whose voice is beautifully featured on tracks like “Too Deep” and “With Me” from the group’s debut album, “SEPT. 5th.” When I first heard May sing live at a dvsn concert in Dallas, I was in awe. Her voice was so powerful yet angelic that I instantly gave all my attention to her. Her feature on this track is no different as I have to admit, she gave Daley a run for his money on “...Again.” Their voices melt so perfectly on the harmonies that they’ve boosted “...Again” to my favorite song off the album.
6. "No Good"
“No Good” is the opener for the entire album and the perfect choice at that. Daley pleads with his partner to make it work as he doesn’t know what he did wrong. Their constant arguments and problems make Daley come to the realization that he’s probably “No good at love.”
7. "Friends" (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)
On “Friends,” Daley and PARTYNEXTDOOR sing about how their friends are interfering with their respective relationships. The hook is catchy and simple, just stating “Stop listening to my friends ‘cuz the way I see it, you’re mine.” Although this record features a well-known recording artist, its lowkey-ness keeps it off the Straight to Radio list. Again, Daley and his harmonies with his feature steal the show!
This category should be self-explanatory. Songs that wind up on this list just fell flat from my expectations.
1. "Courtside" (feat. Jessie Reyez)
I once believed that dvsn couldn’t produce any misses, but alas, I spoke too soon. It sucks because "Courtside" is actually a really great song with amazing potential, but the featured artist, Jessie Reyez ruins it for me. She has what I call an “acquired sound,” and I haven’t acquired it. Her squeaky, nasally, “singing in italics” voice diminishes the entire vibe of “Courtside” for me. As I stated, this track had potential with lines like “She ain’t here for games unless they’re courtside,” and “She only loves from the red bottoms of her heart.”
All in all, this album was a nice pivot from dvsn's normal sound. This should be the album to bring them the mainstream popularity and fame that they rightfully deserve.