Canadian producer/singer-songwriter Dan Bodan is very much of his era, but plays out his modernism via an intriguingly outré aesthetic. His aptly titled debut, Soft, connects him as strongly to Sinatra’s smoothly crooned sensibility and Chet Baker‘s jazz cool as to Frank Ocean or James Blake, despite its shared electronic drive and obeying of the lonely diktats of the bedroom.
Bodan’s combination of the classic and the contemporary casts his R&B/soul-pop songs in the kind of lean, glitchy settings that befit lyrics dealing with relationships in the digital age. Take “Anonymous,” which seems to be about admiring pixelated strangers online or “Jaws of Life,” in which he repeats, “I don’t trust you anymore,” in his gorgeous, trained voice, and admits to feeling guilty about his Internet snooping.
There’s a slight shift with “Rusty,” where Bodan’s multitracked vocals build to an angrily impassioned climax, and with the flurry of strings and darkly smoldering, trip-hop-styled beats that define “Catching Fire,” but these are brief mood shifts. Bittersweet and seductively hushed is how Bodan mostly plays it, and to tag him a George Michael for the Tumblr generation is by no means a glib dismissal.