Soul is a word that has been thrown around a lot when it comes to describing English singer-songwriter Daley, not just by others but by the artist himself. “I call my sound ‘future throwback soul’ since it’s what people love about old soul music, that throwback sound… but I bring it into the future,” said Daley as quoted in a recent press release. However, after listening to the musicians latest album, Days & Nights, I’ve been faced with a decision: re-evaluate my definition of soul or classify Daley as soul-less. Ok not soul-less. That sounds awful.
Personally, I equate Soul with richness of sound and voice and to me that was not apparent on this record. The moment when that thought crystallized for me was on Alone Together which features Marsha Ambrosia, when I was comparing Daley’s voice with Marsha’s. Marsha’s voice has that light and shade, that vulnerability and strength. It is rich and Daley’s vocals sounds thin in comparison. I don’t want to be totally negative about Daley’s voice. He does have talent, but I would classify it as more of an R&B voice.
Daley has been solidly generating buzz for several years now, rising to prominence after featuring on Gorillaz track Doncamatic in 2010 and continuing to amass fans after the release of two EPs in 2012. Days & Nights is his first album. Stylistically it is reasonably varied, with ballads and sadder numbers as well as faster tracks including some that are more upbeat. Musically the sound is fairly consistent: there is always an electronic beat hanging around and this is paired with either more electronica or piano and a lot of chimes. Violins are frequently used as well, sometimes distracting and detracting from the sound of the song, as on Broken, but at other times complimenting to the track.
She Fades is certainly one of the highlights on Days and Nights. The songwriting on this track is superb and the melody of the chorus is beautiful; carrying both a sad and catchy feel to it. Another of my favourites is Love And Affection. Starting off slow and stripped back with just an acoustic guitar and Daley’s vocals an infectious beat and piano soon get involved as well as a couple of backup singers who add further richness to the number. The lyrics, while simple, are lovely and honest.
Days and Nights is a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion and one shouldn’t go into it with high expectations. With the exception of a few notable tracks within the record, the rest of the album is fair in its delivery. Not a bad effort though I don’t imagine this effort to be featured on any “Best of 2014” album lists.