Published Feb 12, 2021At first glance, Table for Two has all the markings of a Valentine's Day haymaker: it's an EP full of duets from R&B darling Lucky Daye with rising stars like YEBBA, Ari Lennox and Tiana Major9 to complement him. The description conjures thoughts of candlelit dinners and the passionate nights that often follow. But, when you pull it apart, Table for Two is an exploration of the uglier side of romance that's clever in more ways than one.
With a voice like plush velvet, Daye laments over unanswered texts ("On Read" ft. Tiana Major9), emotional unavailability ("Access Denied" ft. Ari Lennox) and the painful realization that a toxic relationship has reached its end ("My Window" ft. Mahalia). "How Much Can a Heart Take," which features an assist from Arkansan songstress YEBBA, is the EP's crown jewel. It's a bitter break-up track that plays like whiskey with a honey chaser. The verses are full of fiery attitude but thanks to YEBBA's spotlight-stealing vocals, the song unfolds into something lush and sweet near the chorus.
Though the EP is light on "I love you"s, it's not nearly as depressing as it sounds. The instrumentals are deceptively warm and soulful throughout and Daye's honeyed voice betrays the biting, sometimes tortured lyrics. It's that juxtaposition that makes Table for Two so much fun.
There's also another hidden surprise for listeners who want to dig a little deeper. It's just a theory, but like Kendrick Lamar's DAMN or undun by the Roots, Table for Two takes on a whole new meaning when consumed in reverse. Listen to "Falling in Love" (featuring Joyce Wrice) first rather than last and it reveals two lovers who, despite their doubts, are about to leap into an official relationship. Things are great in the beginning ("Dream," Daye's duet with Queen Naija, is heavy on the lovey-doveyness one would expect so close to Valentine's Day), but they quickly take a turn. There's great sex with no emotion ("Access Denied"), and enough toxicity to make the couple want to call it quits ("My Window"). Texts start going ignored ("On Read") and, finally, the couple breaks, realizing that their feelings were too fickle to maintain anything real ("How Much Can A Heart Take"). Mind blown!
For those looking for more of the soul-stirring heartiness Daye delivered on his 2019 triumph, Painted, they'll find it here. But Table for Two is no repeat: it's a stretch project that's compact, smart and definitely worth repeating. (Keep Cool / RCA)