Canadian R&B duo dvsn, composed of vocalist Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85, recently released its third album, A Muse in Her Feelings, much to the delight of excited fans. The musical group, known for producing steamy, tempestuous bedroom hits such as “Mood” and “Too Deep,” inflects its music with classic R&B crooning, atmospheric synthesizer-based melodies and a hint of ’80s nostalgia. The two artists focus on themes of heartbreak and reconciliation in their latest album, which features a variety of talented collaborators such as Future, Jessie Reyez and PARTYNEXTDOOR.
“No Good” starts off the album on a strong yet vulnerable note. Harplike effects and twinkling piano loops begin the song and build a dreamy, moody atmosphere. As the intro fades out, the instrumentals dim down, allowing Daley’s heart-rending vocals to shine through. The lyrics detail a troubled yet loving relationship that is strained due to a lack of communication. Daley is raw and authentic as he confesses his own wrongdoings in the relationship. As he sings, “Think I need space now but I want you right here with me,” the listener gets a sense of how conflicted and complicated the situation truly is. Throughout the song, the subtle instrumentals complement Daley’s vocals masterfully and lend the feeling of a ’90s romance show opening. As is characteristic in many of dvsn’s songs, the end features a voicemail-style recording of a woman confessing her thoughts on love and commitment, creating a multidimensional narrative.
“Friends” takes a decidedly smoother, more confident tone. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s verse blends seamlessly with Daley’s vocals, oozing self-assurance as he admits, “ I know when you’re with me/ I’m all that you see.” Backed by a hip-hop-inflected bass with elements of trap in the synth loops, Daley mostly sticks to the lower register of his voice until the end of the song, embellishing the chorus in a falsetto and riffing off the last note to fade out the track.
A Muse in Her Feelings reaches its full potential toward the end of the album, with “Between Us,” an updated version of dvsn’s previous single “In Between” that adds a note of refinement with its layered instrumentals and a new verse from Snoh Aalegra. The track begins with energetic, high-pitched electronic notes reminiscent of an ’80s video game. The heavy hip-hop beat then enters the song and amplifies its depth. The lyrics are sincere and profound right off the bat, with Daley crooning, “Let me start by sayin’ sorry/ Some days I take your time for granted.” Snoh Aalegra’s verse heightens the song further by adding another perspective to the drama that plays out, and her delicate yet resonant vocals contrast beautifully with Daley’s richer tones.
“A Muse” is a sensual masterpiece, radiating a warm and intimate energy through the use of raw piano chords and pulsating rhythms. Light ’80s synth notes begin the song before melodious piano chords enter the soundscape, while the bass adds a delightful edge to the track, effortlessly enticing the listener. Daley’s voice soars to an extraordinary nuanced falsetto, echoing his classical R&B influences. The song is the epitome of bedroom music, with sexual innuendos laced throughout the lyrics and a visceral tension in the melody.
Dvsn ends the album on a hauntingly emotional note with “… Again.” The song reverberates with a tangible ’80s nostalgia, featuring synthetic snare drums and passionate guitar inflections. The ballad is highly cinematic, encompassing all of the tension that the album has accumulated and channeling it into one final piece. Daley showcases his full vocal range throughout the song, gliding from his deeper register to a smooth falsetto. An echo reverb overlays his voice to create a sense of distance without detracting from its passion. Shantel May matches Daley’s extraordinary energy note for note, ascending to beautiful heights and using her vibrato soulfully to bring the song to its climax.
A Muse in Her Feelings provides a poignant, heartfelt portrait of two lovers reaching across the space between them and attempting to reconnect. The lyrics effectively lay bare the story with amazing vulnerability and authenticity, while dvsn delivers its distinctive flair through its consistent production style and masterful use of instrumental elements.