The sophomore album is arguably the most challenging record an artist will make in their career. Some might risk it all and experiment with new sounds, while some may stay in their lane and produce a commercially viable album. For British singer Daley, who is the European equivalent of Scott Hoying (for those unfamiliar Americans), detaching from the norm and pivoting into his own lane was no option; instead, it was survival. The Spectrum is a vibrant R&B/soul album. Musically, Daley is in an untouchable space. His vocal quality and ability is unmatched in comparison to the modern male artist.
Who artists collaborate with truly speaks to their personality, influence and musical knowledge. “Until The Pain Is Gone” features R&B powerhouse Jill Scott — who, in her own right, paved the way for neo-soul artists like Daley. Collaborating with Scott is a testament to his artistry and personal acknowledgement of soul and R&B greatness before him. As a result, their voices blend perfectly together. The song evokes a DeBarge song: tender, sexy and soulful. Yet, melodically, the phrasing can put listeners in the realm of Chaka Khan. Bold horns and funky guitar licks build the base of the song, which is fueled by loud percussive elements and wistful strings.
“Selfish” follows and shows listeners a more personal side of Daley. A blunt confessional that explores a fusion of electronic and soul as his vocals effortlessly glide against the xSDTRK-produced (pronounced “soundtrack”) track. “The Only One,” is a throwback to Motown soul. The simplified track lends itself to minimal production. Doo-wop harmonies fill the space as the familiar falsetto belts out his frustrations to a loved one. The massive drums switch up the four/four signature used throughout the record and move into 6/8 time.
“Second To None” is another slow track, letting listers focus on the writing skills Daley poses. His songs are far from cookie-cutter or redundant. He is a soul singer. Period. Soul music has its recurring themes, but Daley approaches love, heartbreak and struggle in a new and authentic light. The song is a feel-good record. His soft vocals make listening seamless and with every transition, his voice creeps back into your ears, making sure every moment is soothing and comforting.
While the album is decent, the issue with Daley lies in the fact that he is greatly unappreciated. After being let go by Republic Records, he’s found a new home at BMG. However, music is timely. The Spectrum was released three years after his debut album. For an artist who is not known on a mainstream level, he demanded much too long of a wait. Listeners are hungry. Daley faces this issue and unfortunately, an even bigger problem: the return of Sam Smith. With Sam Smith releasing new music, any European man with a silky falsetto is in danger of being cast in Mr. Smith’s shadow. Perhaps Daley’s outspoken honesty, musicality and drive will push him into the limelight he greatly deserves.
Lani Renaldo is a senior majoring in music industry. She is also the R&B music director at KXSC. The rotating guest column, “KXSC Radio,” runs Thursdays.