Reviewing Dala's latest album, Best Day, in the middle of winter doesn't seem quite right. It's an album that conjures warm summer evenings, with a light breeze brushing by you carrying the songs of thrushes and the faint sounds of kids at the park. The songs are mellow, but in the most beautiful sense of the word. They deserve to be listened to outside with a refreshing drink in your hand.
Dala's two members, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, have a vocal chemistry that few can match. Both have gorgeous voices that are a joy to listen to individually, but the real magic happens with the harmonies. They are not only accomplished in the technical sense, but in many songs you can almost hear the smiles in their singing. The love they have for their craft is very apparent. It's also clear that they have a strong bond on a personal level. For further proof of their camaraderie you will need to hear the last track on the album, "Too Many Kittens."
The first track, "Life on Earth," is a great snapshot of where Dala is most comfortable: an easy-going tempo, beautiful harmonies and a kind of sweet sadness. Many of the songs follow this recipe ("Not Alone," "Good as Gold," "Virginia Woolf"), and as a result, they don't stand out particularly well. However, they do make the album cohesive and are in fact enjoyable to listen to.
One of the more remarkable songs is the title track, "Best Day." It's hard to think of a prettier song, with the trademark exquisite voices, ukulele backed by strings, and lines like "every day is the best day of your life." It is sticky sweet, but Dala knows how to make the song with real sugar -- not the fake, diet stuff. "Lennon & McCartney" is another one that stands out for its playful piano and lyrics. The song celebrates the "opposites attract" phrase perfectly. It's fairly clear the song is more Paul than John -- which suits me just fine. The rollicking beat of "The Great Escape" sets a nice backdrop for a story of young love. The narrator wants desperately to keep the real world away and enjoy the moment. "If this was a paperback I'd skip the boring chapters, but life doesn't work like that." Finally, both "Father" and "Peggy" are poignant songs of memory and farewell.
The album's production is top-notch, and I wasn't surprised when I found out that producer Mike Roth was behind some of my other favourite Canadian acts. I was also pleased to discover that Kevin Fox is behind the cello in many of the songs.
Best Day is a very good album, with well-written love songs that celebrate today and yesterday. Dala are masters at creating beauty in song. I look forward to their future endeavors.
music review by
9 February 2013
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