At a time when so many up-and-coming folk and roots bands are experimenting with larger, lusher arrangements, it’s refreshing to come across a duo like Dala whose warm, emotive harmonies can take you to the same place as those much bigger bands. Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine met during a high school music class in 2002. It took them three years to drop a debut album in 2005. But, since, the two friends have delivered a half- dozen albums and have earned a couple Juno and Canadian Music Award nominations. While they’re widely beloved throughout Canada’s enthusiastic acoustic music scene, they’re poised to infect the States with that same kind of passion when their sixth album, Best Day.
Built strongly on these women’s intuitive harmonies, the songs fall aesthetically somewhere between Dar Williams’s more recent albums and early offerings from the Waifs. Their lyrics are richly complex although initially simple; and the arrangements on this album are mostly quiet sparse – sticking to guitar and piano while letting their alternating lead-and-harmony voices rule the roost. There’s a certain warmth and enveloping spirit to these songs, which feel like home.
Here, the women consider on all the varied confusions and epiphanies of love and life in general, opening with the line, “I’ve been trying to make a masterpiece but I’ve been coloring all the wrong things.” It takes them eleven songs, but they finally reach a catharsis with “Still Life” – a song about resigning to, perhaps, the fact that there’s no such thing as “wrong things” to color.
In between are simple explorations of love and family. Easy highlights include “Lennon & McCartney” and “Father,” both with slightly creepy piano parts holding up deeply ruminative lyrics about what matters most. But, listen for yourself and you’re sure to find plenty more to sink your teeth into.