A Freudian Love Story

Breaking down the debut studio album by Daniel Caesar

man climbing steep summit in Freudian album cover
Freudian album cover

Daniel Caesar is the epitome of “baby-making” music. Every song is a reminder of the unrequited love we all ultimately seek in our plight for “the one”. In his debut album Freudian, Caesar created one of the best love albums I’ve ever heard and continue to be enamored by. Read further to see how this album turned out to be a classic in the modern soul/R&B genre.

Thankful For You

The first two songs of Freudian capture the feeling of being completely and utterly in love. “Get You”, the first song on the album, is an introduction to the artist’s love interest. Caesar considers himself supremely lucky to have captured the attention of this person and questions who would’ve thought he would get them. Combine this with the sexual encounters these partners have had and it seems they are meant for each other — destined to be. This song captures the humbleness and gratefulness the artist feels. The soothing berceuse-like style in which Caesar sings installs the listener with the same feeling, the longing for unrequited love.

Through drought and famine, natural disasters My baby has been around for me Kingdoms have fallen, angels be callin’ None of that could ever make me leave

Following “Get You” with “Best Part”, featuring H.E.R., makes this album have one of the best openings for a soul album in recent music. This song continues to express the follies of love and how that one person will forever change how you see the world. Life is like a movie and the two in love are the main characters. These two songs are a staple in any wedding reception.

Tortuous Love

As we progress through the album, we start to see the fairy tale begin to fade away, and the harsher realities of love set in. In “Hold Me Down”, the artist’s love interest has started to turn their back on Caesar, and he wants answers. Repeatedly pleading for them to express their love, Caesar wants this someone to actually commit and “hold him down”, be an anchor in his life. This barrier is a common stalwart in relationships that are taking it to the next level. The notion of commitment is sometimes scary, and will hinder a relationship to the brink of extinction.

The next song, “Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song)” is an interesting experimental song that doesn’t contain any choruses. There is a ton of discourse on this song due to its many layers of meaning. An analysis provided by Genius makes sense of it:

“A wordplay between “neurosis” and “new roses”, Daniel Caesar and Nevon Sinclair offer two perspectives of a dying relationship brought upon by a partner cheating, thereby transgressing their relationship, hence “Transgressor’s Song”. Neurosis, a mild mental illness, ties deep within the realm of psychiatry, keeping in theme with the album’s title Freudian; relating to the feelings of the song of being depressed and anxious but while still not getting lost in touch with reality.

Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song) again incorporates Caesar's gospel influences from his upbringing as the word “transgress” is heavily associated with the Biblical meaning of it, 'violation of God’s Ten Commandments or moral law'.”

In this song, Caesar seems to throw away the perfect ideal of love with this person, apprehensively. He claims that even his friends knew he should leave this person, however, they don’t lie with this person at night. He acknowledges his flaws at the same time but points at that the love interest has done the same thing. It’s a bit of a drunken, circular argument.

To clarify upon this argument, the next song “Loose”, is a stream of consciousness song used to justify cutting ties with the love interest. He lays out the reasoning for “cutting that girl loose”, release her from the shackles of the relationship. Emotional maturity, patience, and guilt are a few of the reasons to let her go in this inner monologue. From here, we begin to see the disintegration of the relationship.

Let It Go

With “We Find Love”, Caesar acknowledges his former lover. Stating he knew she was the girl of his dreams but they weren’t meant to be. This song is an ode to this person. It is sort of melancholic in a way. This notion comes from the chorus of the song, highlighting the repetitive downfall that love can be. The melancholic nature of this line is countered by the gospel chorus that reigns in the background. It is in this that this expectation is, perhaps beautiful in a way. The way we fall in and out of love can make us who we are as people, and more importantly, lovers.

We find love, we get up Then we fall down, we give up We find love, we get up Then we fall down, we give up

Coming Back Home

With “Blessed”, Caesar is tying the relationship back together with closure. Despite their many downfalls, Caesar is always coming back home to this person — both physically and emotionally. The buildup in the end of the song is beautiful in the way that we see lovers reunite. This reconnection is exemplified in the following song, “Take Me Away”. In adoration, as Caesar thinks about his love, he only imagines going to a far corner of the Earth and taking this person with them.

If the album ended here, it would be a perfect resolution; however, it doesn’t.

“Transform” (my personal favorite song of the album) questions the criticism Caesar receives from his lover, for things he seems as innate or natural to his existence. He feels as if his fame and fortune has changed the perception of both him and his lover and the way they perceive love. However this did change the both of them, the perceptions of both are reupholstered by their verses throughout the song. This discourse serves as a final reminder that not all love is perfect, no matter how strongly you feel about each other.

If a leopard never changes its spots How can I change what I’ve got? Transform, transform, transform, transform We don’t punish the tiger for catching its prey So how am I the one to blame If it’s in my nature? Transform, transform, transform

Lastly, we have “Freudian”. This song is sort of confusing in meaning, as it can be addressed to Caesar’s mother and lover. Singing to both, is odd, but completely endearing at the same time. Each verse spoken can apply to both his mother and lover in different senses and is almost genius in its ability to do so. This could also reinforce the Freudian school of thought the album is named after.

Another odd quality of the song is the long silence in the middle. It lasts about a minute to a minute and a half and after you can hear what sounds like the loading of cassette tapes. This leads to what I guess you could consider a “secret verse” much like Kanye did on Watch The Throne. This verse isn’t included on the vinyl edition of the album which cements this idea.

Beyond the forefront theme of love in this album, it is riddled with philosophical and psychological themes as the title induces. Too much to get in-depth with, and probably inappropriate (as Freud has been discredited many times).

Freudian is the ultimate plead for and being in love. This album is what love feels like and it’s not easy to replicate that feeling. Give it a listen and tell me what you think!

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