Dijon Records “Absolutely”

Absolutely is Dijon’s 2021 debut, full-length album. It follows his debut EP Sci Fi 1, released in early 2019 and his sophomore EP How Do You Feel About Getting Married?, released in May 2020.

Born in Germany to American military parents as Dijon Duenas, the now LA-based artist was one half of the former R&B alternative duo ‘Abhi/Dijon.’ As a child, Dijon moved back and forth between Germany and the United States often. However, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist considers Maryland home, describing it as “the only place I stayed consistently.”

“Big Mike’s” ignites Absolutely with a haunting slide guitar solo by bandmate, Noah Le Gros. Dijon shows up on bass, clarinet, drums, and organ. Co-producer Michael Gordon plays guitar and piano. ‘I like how you look when you got questions / I like how you look when you get stressed… I like when you’re mad,’ Dijon confesses a list of peculiarities he’s fond of about his fiancée. A cacophony of competing wails, bass, and the omnipresent slide guitar contend before he threatens a marriage proposal, ‘I might drop to my knees, Joanna, please / Will you take me?’ His raw and raspy vocals showcase a certain vulnerability.

In early 2022, Dijon toured as an opener for Bon Iver. The influence of Bon Iver is hard to miss here. The live band, jam session aesthetic, and musical stylings that soar to their breaking point are just some elements they share. Most of Absolutely was recorded in his home studio with a single, central microphone set-up in the middle of the room. Recording took place during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic where Dijon worked with what he calls a “revolving door of collaborators,” who seem to hop on and off the record on their own schedule. The crisscrossing of collaborators is palpable throughout the album.

On “Many Times,” featuring an unwavering bass line, the singer laments, ‘So many times you hurt me so much / Too many times you said it was over.’ The song ends where “Annie” begins. Uncontainable, Dijon acquiesces, ‘You can change your mind / You can change your mind / Annie, I,’ providing an out from his earlier proposal.
The eclectic and rambunctious opus is by no means flawless, with some tracks feeling out of place. “Noah’s Highlight Reel” is a slow and smoky placeholder, while “God in Wilson” requires some more context. Both songs sandwich an album standout, “The Dress.”

“The Dress” shows off Dijon’s range and versatility the most. It is a smooth, bona fide R&B slow jam, inspired by Bonnie Raitt. ‘We should go out and dance like we used to dance / We should go out and hold hands like lovers hold hands,’ he croons. Later, amidst a swirl of guitar and keyboard, Dijon concedes, ‘I tried, and I tried, and I failed / But the dress looks nice on you still / And it always will.’

Other highlights include the introspective “Talk Down” and the beautifully devastating “Rodeo Clown,” where the artist writes from his fiancée’s perspective. She watches him perform at the rodeo, after having been stood up by him, again. Her lover becomes an unrecognizable character to her, for the audience, ‘And you ride good / Crowd go wild, claps for you / I clap too, I’m your biggest fan.’ Dijon’s protagonist is inconsolable, searching her elusive, bullfighting lover for a modicum of reasoning, ‘What are you so ashamed of? / Rodeo could kill ya / I just wanna kiss ya / But you won’t let me near ya,’ the song complains before chastising, ‘You’re missing out, you’re missing out on good, good lovin’.’

Not much happens after the rodeo ends. Double closers, the literal “End of Record” and the superfluous “Credits!” are surely extras, but they don’t take away much from the album. Absolutely is Dijon’s most cohesive offering yet, with the artist leaning into his Americana influences. He finds his own voice amid the chaos and fine-tunes it. G&S

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