Dala Seeks a Pop Path


Everyone is Someone

Compass 7-4548-2

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Dala is the Canadian folk/pop duo of Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther. They have been working hard to try to break into the U.S. market, where they’re not a household name though they’ve released five records and have been nominated for several Juno awards, Canada’ s equivalent of the Grammys. Everyone is Someone is actually from 2009 and is their fourth recording, though it’s the first one to get wide U.S. distribution, thanks to a deal with Compass Records.

I can see why this record, not their forthcoming release, was chosen. Dala is often billed as an acoustic folk duo that writes original material and performs covers of icons such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Gordon Lightfoot. Everyone is Someone, though, is a pop recording. It’s shimmery, chirpy, and bright; it’s also processed, slick, and loaded with additives. The good news? Carabine and Walther have lovely voices, harmonize like angels, and are so bubbly that they defy cynicism. The record is infused with youthful energy and confident charm. Those over the age of 30 might surprise themselves by finding one of their tunes rattling around inside their brains in the sector where guilty pleasures are stored. This leads me to the downside. Because this is mostly a pop record, it opts for flash over depth. The songs are catchy, but there’s a lot of yeah, yeah, yeah and la, la, la filler that betrays the fact that there’s more bounce than Baudelaire in the lyrics. In fact, the record often feels like a collection of singles demos aimed more at producers than audiences. The production is laden with overdubs, bathed in sonic mood enhancers, and airbrushed to aural perfection. I’d be surprised, in fact, if offerings such as “Levi” and “Northern Lights” don’t get test-driven as possible singles.

To be clear, I’m not saying the lasses shouldn’t pursue a pop path; if this record is any indication, they’d raise the genre’s quality bar. I too fell sway to their infectious attraction and wish them luck. I would, though, like to hear some of the material that’s less pop and more folk. As enjoyable as I found this record to be, there’s an ephemerality to the material that makes me doubt they’ll be performing much of it in another five years. –Rob Weir

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