dvsn’s ‘Sept. 5th’ Equals Love
Twenty years ago, R&B was at its prime. There was an overwhelming force derived from the soul of a vocalist. Even if the lyrics on a track simply reflected the sexual urges of a singer, a listener felt something profound and unexplainable. At the same time, the production pleasantly sank beneath the skin and the chorus stuck to the mind. On March 27, Canadian R&B duo dvsn resurrected that phenomenom with their debut studio album “Sept. 5th.”
At the beginning of dvsn’s career, the pair was shrouded by an enigmatic air. The voice that seemed to encapsulate the essence of ’90s R&B and the producer that provided it a contemporary backdrop withheld their identities from the public. After investigations carried forth by individuals on the internet, music forums and blogs pointed to OVO Sound in-house producer Nineteen85 and vocalist Daniel Daley.
Nineteen85, legally known as Paul Jefferies, is responsible for producing popular singles such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Nicki Minaj’s “Truffle Butter.” Along with Daley, the two worked together years before officially forming as dvsn. Earlier this year in February, dvsn signed onto OVO Sound and joined the ranks of Drake, PARTYNEXTDOOR and other notable acts.
“Sept. 5th” opens up with dvsn’s first single “With Me.” The track, along with “The Line,” became popular when both premiered on the eighth episode of OVO Sound Radio. On “With Me,” dvsn skillfully channels carnal cravings of flesh atop sensual production with smooth bass grooves, percussion that neatly drills itself into the listener’s ear and a climactic guitar riff that succinctly captures the sexual longing at the end of the song.
“Too Deep” advances from the exclusivity of physical intimacy toward the emotional depth that a couple meets upon falling in love. The song is a giant double entendre, bouncing back and forth between physical acts of love and the idea of commitment. An uncredited female choir shines in the spotlight while Daley sweeps in with whispers about sweet nothings and a high falsetto as he sings, “The way that you speak to me, freak with me/Gives me a rise.”
If the album was a gradient of romance, “Try/Effortless” falls at the darker end of the spectrum simply because of its ambient, electronic production. Listening to the track is like driving through a seemingly endless, dark tunnel that slowly lets out into breathtaking scenery.
“Do It Well” showcases dvsn’s vulnerability as he sings to a stripper confidant throughout the song. On “Sept. 5th,” the track that shares the title of the album, a guitar riff whirs while Daley wistfully croons about the loss of love, convinced that sex can repair a broken relationship. Nineteen85 successfully paints the lyrics with sonic textures that scream with the same intensity of regret in Daley’s voice.
Post-breakup can leave one with the disastrous effect of harmfully and hopelessly longing for the past. This topic is explored in the washed out tones of “Hallucinations” where Daley sings in the pre-chorus, “Tryna rewind ‘til we’re back where we started/Yeah, that’s all I want/Night after night after night, I’m still haunted/I’m haunted, baby.”
“Another One” describes infidelity, the aftermath that ensues, the shame and the sense of loss that comes with cheating. “Angela” analyzes the different angles of a relationship and its highs and lows over slow percussion and piano keys. “Sept. 5” closes out with “The Line,” an intimate discussion between lovers about trust and where their relationship is headed.
“Sept. 5th” is a view-master that displays different slides of affection but for ears. It’s evident that dvsn takes inspiration from Ginuwine and other artists from that era, but dvsn is its own, unique sound. While Nineteen85 and Daley are two separate people, dvsn’s solid production, mature lyrics and seductive vocals form a single entity.