Neither explicitly retro nor overtly commercial, Lucky Daye is a singer/songwriter with a modern, slightly left-of-center approach to R&B with a foundation in classic soul. Like contemporaries BJ the Chicago Kid and Daniel Caesar, he’s a synthesist of traditional and progressive modes, showcased on his debut album, the Grammy-nominated Painted (2019), and the duets-oriented Table for Two EP (2021).
Established as a songwriter before his breakthrough, Daye counts Keith Sweat, Ne-Yo, and Trey Songz, as well as Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, and Ella Mai, among the artists who recorded his pre-solo material. Signed to a recording deal with Tunji Balogun’s RCA-affiliated Keep Cool label, Daye got to work with producer D’Mile and made his debut as a headliner in 2018. First was “Little More Time,” a Victoria Monet collaboration included on the soundtrack for Insecure’s third season. Next came the single “Roll Some Mo,” followed shortly thereafter by I and II, EPs that became the basis of the full-length Painted, issued in May 2019. The LP registered on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. Additionally, “Roll Some Mo” was nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song, and “Real Games,” another cut off the album, was up for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
During the rest of 2019 and into 2020, Daye recorded with Mark Ronson for the Spies in Disguise soundtrack and contributed “Fade Away” to Stella Meghie’s The Photograph. Deeper into the latter year, he co-wrote and sang on Kehlani’s “Can You Blame Me” and released an update of Toni Braxton’s debut single, “Love Shoulda Brought You Home,” featuring Babyface (who co-wrote and co-produced the original). The track, shortened to “Shoulda,” then appeared on a deluxe edition of Painted. Daye returned in February 2021 with Table for Two, an EP of duets featuring Ari Lennox, Queen Naija, Mahalia, and Joyce Wrice, among others. ~ Andy Kellman