When I first heard Daley’s voice back in the fall of 2010, I was astounded beyond belief. Gorillaz, at the time one of my favorite bands, had just put out a single called “Doncamatic (All Played Out)” as an ode to the drum machine of the same name. What separated “Doncamatic” from Gorillaz’s other tracks was the lack of Damon Albarn as its principal vocalist, with Daley, a singer then unknown to me, in his place. The track launched Daley to Top 40 fame and earned him a place as an extremely talented and reputable vocalist. Fast forward to November 2012: I personally hadn’t heard anything major from Daley since “Doncamatic,” until a friend pointed me to the song “Alone Together,” a duet with Grammy-nominated Philly-via-UK singer Marsha Ambrosius. I immediately became hooked on the track, and the entire Alone Together EP soon afterward. Daley put out his debut album Days & Nights in February, and stopped by at Union Transfer to support the record.
When I walked into Union Transfer on Saturday night, I knew I was in for a night of incredibly slick vocals, intricate songwriting, and generally excellent musicianship. I walked out of the venue with a great deal more. Many vocalists have to adjust keys and tempo of their songs in order to perform them live; Daley did just the opposite, sticking with the original keys and belting up considerably higher than on studio versions, even hitting Marsha Ambrosius’ high B flat during Alone Together. Throughout the night, Daley artfully blended his oldest and newest material together with the occasional verse from another artist, the most impressive being slipping in the first verse of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin’ Bout You” during an interlude entitled “Love Lost.”
What surprised me most about the evening was the huge, devoted following that Daley drew out to Union Transfer. As I made my way around the venue to take pictures, every person I stood next to knew every word to every song, no matter how old or under publicized. Daley very readily used the omnipresent crowd participation to his advantage, calling upon the crowd to harmonize with him again and again. Quite obviously, Daley possesses gargantuan quantities of talent and charisma. His voice has taken him on a journey across the musical spectrum, working with artists ranging from Gorillaz, to Nelly, to Marsha Ambrosius, to Jessie J, to Pharrell Williams, and back again. If there’s an R&B singer-songwriter more poised for mainstream success in the coming years, it’s Daley.
Opening for Daley at Union Transfer was local talent neo-soul singer Christopher Young, who performs as C-Young. He serenaded the audience with a range of tunes, from originals to a cover of Justin Bieber’s All That Matters.
Photo by Cameron Pollack