British singer Daley delivers an enjoyable, modern R&B debut with Days & Nights
Daley • Days & Nights • Republic • US Release Date: February 11, 2014
Call 2014 the year of British soul. The U.S. has been blessed by the gifts of John Newman (Tribute), Sam Smith (Nirvana EP), and now one Daley Gareth with his full-length debut, Days & Nights. Daley first made some noise in R&B circles in the U.S. with his EP, Alone Together, which featured a killer collaboration with Jessie J (“Remember Me”) as well as a cover of Amy Winehouse’s soulful “Love Is A Losing Game”. Two songs from the excellent prelude to Days & Night are reprised – “Blame The World” and “Alone Together”. At 12 tracks and shy of 50 minutes, Days & Nights shows that Daley has plenty to offer the R&B world. Perhaps its not an innovative album per se, but Days & Nights is certainly well conceived.
“Time Travel” initiates Days & Nights mysteriously with a modern R&B vibe written all over it as far as songwriting and production work. After a more restrained production approach on the first verse, the second verse sports the full production, with Daley delivering more robust vocals to match. Ultimately, “Time Travel” is a great start for Days & Nights, with Daley vocally impressing with the pureness and jubilance of his tenor. Follow-up “Look Up” isn’t too shabby, shifting from modern R&B to more classic, neo-soul quality. Chivalrous, Daley sings: “I wish that we could face / the things that hold us back / before we fade to black / instead we choose to chase things we know won’t last…” Deep, philosophical talk Daley – deep. Again, the Brit’s higher-pitched vocals shine like a beacon, never fighting with the production work. Strings lift the bridge and Daley matches the more excited, emotional intensity generated as well. A solid opening duo gets Days & Nights started upright.
“Blame the World” is a dramatic, soulful, and moving track, originating on Daley’s Alone Together EP from 2012. “Betrayed your one and only / the tears fell now you’re lonely / now you wanna blame the world,” Daley sings passionately on the memorable chorus. The intensity of the standout is elevated by its soul styled production including synthesized strings, piano, swirls of organ, and horns. A marching snare aids in differentiating the bridge from the other sections of the song. This eliminates predictability and keeps things interesting.
While “Good News” has a tough act to follow, it’s another solid showing ultimately. The tone of “Good News” is one of more hope for ‘good news’ rather than actually spreading it. A number of instances, Daley looks for the positives, though he’s planted in the negative. “I want to take a leap of faith escape it all, but it / seems like there’s no relief whichever way I fall,” he sings on the first verse, only later to follow it up with “We all want the same / love without the pain / truth without the blame / but we’re stuck inside of the storm…” On highlight “Love And Affection”, Daley seems to transcend anything casual: “Thank you / you took me dancing / cross the floor cheek to cheek / but with a love I can really move, really move / I can really dance, really dance.” Daley isn’t being literal about the ‘dancing’, but rather he wants things to get truly serious – he’s not in it for playing around!
“Be” again finds Daley taken by the girl, this time asking her “Will you sleep tonight / or will you lie awake like me / pillow to pillow back to back / pulling the sheets and all of that / waiting for eyes to meet…” Sigh Daley, that’s so romantic. “Alone Together” is even better, pairing Daley with fellow British R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius (formerly of Floetry notoriety as well as being a solo artist). Vocal chemistry is top-notch, particularly upon and proceeding the bridge. “You’re the desert sand, I’ll be your water and you’re the perfect plan I never thought of…” Can you say ‘power duet’ – I think so. “Pass It On” and single “Broken” are both highlights as well, showcasing the best of Daley. On “Pass It On”, Daley rivals Ne-Yo’s contemporary R&B work (patterned after Michael Jackson). “Broken”, on the other hand, shows off Daley’s tremendous vocal skill. The chorus is definitely an attraction: “That’s why I’m never gonna love this way again / I’m never gonna give my heart again/ cause every time I try, I end up broken.”
Days & Nights closes out strongly with the trio of “She Fades”, “Love Somebody”, and of course “Days & Nights” the title track. Still, none of the three are the best of the effort necessarily. “She Fades” benefits from Daley’s continual thoughtfulness in both vocal performance and songwriting. “Love Somebody” details the emotional pull of being truly infatuated (“I’m feeling restless in the morning / composure screwed up on the floor / I’m such a mess when you ignore me / you only leave me needing more”). Similarly, “Days & Nights” is invested in a broken relationship of the past: “Days and nights, spent alone, thinking of no one / the factory of you and me diminished long ago …” Modern production characterizes the concluding title track.
All in all, Days & Nights is an exceptional full-length debut from Daley. What is unfortunate is that there isn’t more buzz surrounding the Brit R&B standout. With such mad pipes, Daley deserves much more recognition. Regardless of his commercial lot, Daley has it going on strongly on Days & Nights.
“Time Travel”; “Blame The World”; “Love And Affection”; “Alone Together” featuring Marsha Ambrosius; “Pass It On”; “Broken”