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Dijon - How Do You Feel About Getting Married? Music Album Reviews

Los Angeles singer and songwriter Dijon Duenas’ solo debut takes a polyglot approach, setting his yearning, falsetto-laden vocals against synthy digital textures and folk-inflected guitars.

Baltimore-bred, Los Angeles-based Dijon is the quintessential singer-songwriter for this moment where genre and style have become exempt from classifications and hegemony. His new EP How Do You Feel About Getting Married? was released under the R&B/soul tag, appropriate for his yearning, falsetto-laden vocals and the mood of the synthy, digital textures throughout, but many of these sounds lie in the crosshairs of folk and pop-rock. Dijon cites Joni Mitchell and Feist as influences; his 2019 song “lace,” he’s said, was inspired by Smog’s “Teenage Spaceship.”
When Little Richard died earlier this month, the vital conversation about how rock’n’roll was not invented by white people reopened. Whether it’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Beyoncé’s country stylings on Lemonade, or the often reductive classifications of a folk-leaning artist like Moses Sumney, the message remains the same: Guitar music, despite perception, despite who has dominated the charts, does not inherently belong to whiteness. In 2018, Dijon told the FADER that, as a person of color making Americana-influenced music, he was grappling with a kind of cultural dissonance. “[I’m] fascinated [with] really unironically and genuinely appropriating these symbols, ideas, and mythologies that aren’t necessarily associated with minority music,” he explained.
With Dijon’s latest release, any trepidations about his obsession with guitar music are gone. On “rock n roll,” he sings, “She don’t like rock’n’roll/We talked about it… So I told her that I just got a record and I promise it’s a jam/‘Automatic’ and I wanna see you dance.” That would be Prince’s “Automatic,” from 1999, a reference Dijon goes on to pair with name-drops of the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, and, later, Sly Stone and Earth Wind & Fire. Like everything on the six-song collection, “rock n roll” is loud and sparse. Crunchy guitar and big, clubby bass expand and contract as silence peeks in through the synthetic chunkiness.

Genre alloys that sound brand new and genuinely surprising—without being a mess—are always hard to come by. Standout “alley-oop,” the EP’s thunderbolt, pairs tender R&B and digital tinkering with pedal steel and country-ish riffs. Throughout, the sound-jamming is focused, the production glossy. But many of Married’s other hybrids are not so unusual that they sound particularly new. Opener “do you light up?” invokes both early Frank Ocean and Merriweather Post Pavilion without muddying the colors, but it doesn’t amplify them, either.

Polygluttony reigns right now, and Dijon has figured out his place in it. But sometimes his references seem pulled out of a hat, as when he described an earlier song, “Cannonball,” as an attempt to merge Jodeci and Animal Collective. It does sound like AnCo with soul vocals, but there’s more to a Jodeci influence than soul vocals alone—nor does the combination seem entirely necessary in the first place. Essential on their own, Dijon’s inspirations require singular finesse to succeed as a mix.

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