Toronto singer/songwriter Daniel Caesar seems like he’s trying to find his own sound on his Pilgrim’s Paradise EP, but you can clearly hear the chart potential in his quirky R&B. One moment he sounds like he’s paying tribute to Frank Ocean, a couple of songs later he evokes a soulful Smashing Pumpkins, and then he indulges his folky tendencies on the next track. He even flips Kanye West’s Streetlights into a haunting, atmospheric piano ballad, Streetcar.
The most promising moments come when it’s hardest to spot his inspiration. The EP has much more of a live band feel than most pop R&B, but modern production details set it apart from the throwback soul scene. Subtle textures and eccentric touches help offset some of the more conservative aspects of his songwriting. Caesar’s in his formative years as an artist, but there’s something undeniably exciting about listening to him stretch himself in different directions.
Top track: Death & Taxes