Daniel Caesar Pilgrim's Paradise

Daniel Caesar Pilgrim's Paradise
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Daniel Caesar's new seven-song project is a masterpiece of an EP. Pilgrim's Paradise picks up from where Caesar left off on last year's magnificent Praise Break EP, continuing his wistful pursuit of self-actualization. Raised in Oshawa in a religious family and now based in Toronto, Caesar's music is often atmospheric and reflective of his mind state — contemplative lyrics, warm, electronic R&B and impressive production here emphasize what we already knew — that Caesar is a hell of a songwriter.

"Don't forget you chose this life / Welcome to your paradise," Caesar croons on "Paradise," which features the sleek instrumentation of BADBADNOTGOOD. "Death and Taxes" is a cold tale of the unpredictability and moral ambiguity of modern life that finds Caesar soaring, while the gospel-influenced "Show No Regret" is calm and drifting. On "Streetcar," Caesar strips back Kanye West's "Street Lights" to just the melody and piano; it's still melancholic, but there's something very human about Caesar's version that the robotic Kanye original didn't touch on.

On Praise Break, the young IXXI collective artist was figuring out his strengths; on Pilgrim's Paradise, he's found them, and he's letting them shine. (IXXI)