20 Best R&B Albums of 2017

Sharon Jones, Khalid, SZA, Miguel and more

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Daniel Caesar, 'Freudian'
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6. Daniel Caesar, 'Freudian'6/20

6. Daniel Caesar, 'Freudian'

Love is best when it's lush — or so Daniel Caesar wants to remind us. And on his stunning debut album, Freudian, the young Toronto singer-songwriter makes love the epicenter of his musical universe, relating the swell and frustration of a new relationship as if he's testifying about heaven and hell. He even adapts two gospel songs – Kirk Franklin's "Hold Me Down" and Kyle David Matthews "We Fall Down" – into vulnerable, lovelorn plaints and uses the Toronto female vocal trio CaDaRo Tribe to act as a choral echo. "Every time I go inside of your protected/Place with reverence/I'm reminded of a time I was neglected/It seems you're heaven-sent," he marvels on the sultry "Take Me Away," coaxing his guitar to speak in tongues as Syd coos in a delicate falsetto. Elsewhere, other female voices (Kali Uchis, H.E.R.) join in the rapture. Despite the songs' dreamy reverie, Caesar's accompaniment on guitar and keyboards provides a clear-eyed, organic foundation, as do producers Jordan Evans and Matthew Burnett, protégés of primary Drake collaborator Boi-1da. M.O.

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