Dijon’s storytelling shines in “Absolutely”

Dijon’s sound has always been difficult to pin down, as he regularly switches up his style and collaborates with an unusually wide range of artists. But, in his exciting 2021 project Absolutely, Dijon came through with his most consistent, thought-out music to date. Combining the lo-fi R & B of Frank Ocean, the vocal delivery of Bon Iver, the energy of raw, live jam sessions, and detailed, emotional storytelling; this album really captured something beautiful.

This project is truly a rollercoaster; “Many Times” is a fast-paced, groovy banger, “Annie” is slow burning, but an ultimately thrilling ballad. High-energy songs like these contrast with the slow, gut-wrenching ones where Dijon is absolutely singing his heart out (“Rodeo Clown”, “Noah’s Highlight Reel”, “Scratching”). His vocal versatility really comes into play here; he has the energy and swag of a great live artist, but also the ability to display immense emotion beautifully in his music. 

Another highlight, in general, is his ability to tell a story. He puts you in situations where you don’t know the context, but paints a vivid picture of the current situation. For example, in “Talk Down”, illustrates an argument he has sitting in the car in an empty parking lot. The sheer simplicity of two people arguing while fogging up the car windows, listening to Gillian Welch and The Band come through in a fantastic way. 

Though I appreciate the versatility and storytelling of this album,  the thing that really sold this album for me is the live feel that persists throughout the entire thing. All of the music was performed in the studio by a group of musicians together (as opposed to recording separately or digitally). With a few exceptions, the tracks are recorded with a microphone in the middle of the studio and all the musicians playing with amps. As a result, you can hear the occasional background conversation, as well as hear some of the communication between the musicians. This unique artistic choice gives the music a more organic, warm, human feel that further serves to enhance the emotional depth of the album. I also appreciate the fact that Dijon chose to move away from this format occasionally; “The Dress” is extremely well produced and mastered which definitely added to the enjoyment of that one in particular. 

I also love the pacing of this album. The transitions really just hit (“Many Times” to “Annie” is one of the best two-song runs you’ll hear this year, and the transition is a big part of that), and the vast emotional changes between tracks never feel too abrupt. And since the album never feels drawn out, it’s easy to listen to it many times. 

This project does have some definite flaws, despite probably being my favorite album of 2021. A few of the tracks, specifically “Noah’s Highlight Reel” and “Did You See It?” just didn’t work for me, as they seemed aimless and were pretty boring lyrically and sonically. But Dijon definitely makes up for it with the catchiness of songs like “The Dress” and “Many Times”, and the beauty of songs like “Rodeo Clown” and “Scratching”. 

The novelty and variation of this album, along with the mature storytelling and emotional expression, make for an incredible project out of Dijon.