dvsn's "Morning After" is an Engrossing Struggle with Heartbreak

dvsn's "Morning After" is an Engrossing Struggle with Heartbreak

The OVO-signed R&B duo grapples with vulnerability amid the peaks and valleys of a failing relationship on their sophomore EP.

The OVO-signed R&B duo grapples with vulnerability amid the peaks and valleys of a failing relationship on their sophomore EP.

Text: Justin Ragolia

As a full-length alternative R&B project, Morning After's strength comes from its showcasing the synergy between dvsn's two Toronto-bred members. Nineteen85's slick, hazy downtempo production fuses modern hip-hop, ambient electronic, and classic R&B to lie a rock-solid foundation for Daniel Daley's velvety smooth voice to strut, with its delicate, precise falsetto highs and vivid, commanding lows. It's simple to see how the duo gained the attention of Drake's own OVO Sounds in 2015 and quickly earned the growing record label's stamp of approval when they signed on last February.

Plunging deeper into the depths of heartbreak after an initial dive on their freshman EP, Sept. 5th, Morning After rides the waves of a tumultuous, drawn-out breakup, cluing us in on the peaks and trenches of a failed relationship. Daley's tone oscillates between dreamy nostalgia, hopeful pleading, forlorn apology, and defensive, better-off-without-you resentment, which makes for a thematically varied (PB)R&B record, but one that does fall flat in some spots.

What's most interesting about the project, though, is how Daley acquaints us with his fear of vulnerability throughout the album's length, so subtly that it wouldn't be illogical to question whether or not it's intentional.

This confusion is most abundant on "Think About Me," which finds Daley at a down point in his struggling romance as he croons and belts over a light electronic melody and heavy, buzzing bass. On the chorus of this track, Daley moans, "Who's gonna make love like I do?(Yeah, nobody)/And who knows your touch like I do?(Yeah, nobody)." This gives the song the cocky, resentment-laden tone of a star coping with heartbreak by telling himself his ex-lover couldn't find anyone better than him.

Later in chorus though, Daley belts, his voice breaking slightly, "I know you still think about me/Do you not think about me?" and even later, "How could you not think about me?" which hints at the possibility that he's singing so cockily to mark an insecure breakdown or allude to the fact that he's only singing to himself to cope with the loss of his lover.

Similarly, he very briefly admits to insecurity on "You Do," singing, "You know that trust is, worse than/Just being alone/We all get insecure, it's true, it's cool/ 'Cause I feel like you do," and hints again at his vulnerability on "Don't Choose," where he pleads for his lover to choose him over partying and nightlife atop a Nineteen85 beat so engrossing you could just as easily overlook Daley's sentiment.

It's not all struggles with vulnerability for dvsn here though, as Morning After boasts its fair share of sex anthems reminiscent of R. Kelly and Marvin Gaye hits. Nineteen85's modern production and Daniel Daley's classically handsome R&B tenor make for a truly winning combo on the album's sexually-focused cuts, with "Mood" and "P.O.V" rising to the top.

Though their lyrics can veer towards being generic, the album's pop bangers, most notably "Can't Wait" and especially the project's opening track, "Run Away" stand out as infinitely playable radio jams.

That's not to say that simple, unoriginal lyrics aren't a pitfall on Morning After, as on certain songs, they read as uninspired at best, and undeniably corny at worst. "Keep Calm" suffers most from this, as Daley sings, "Should be here but you ain't right now/Could be here but you ain't right now/Both those things could be changed right now," which sounds like something he would text his significant other if he were, like, a horny teenager trying to incite a sexting session.

Though not every track is perfect, Morning After marks a worthwhile entry into dvsn's musical canon and a solid sophomore record for the OVO duo as they carve their path as musicians. Nineteen85's refined, experimental R&B production and Daley's robust and versatile singing voice are a vortex of passion, pain, and indulgence, and one we look forward to seeing evolve as their careers unfold.

Give the EP a listen for yourself below.


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