CD review: Close To Home
By: Dan Brisebois
Dahlia Wakefield is easily one of the best kept secrets that's going to take Canadian music to new heights. Born in the Phillipines, she emigrated to Canada when still an infant. After moving from rural Saskatchewan to earn a music degree in Edmonton, she quickly made a mark on campus with her gentle, yet powerful vocal prowess, appearing on a Grant McEwan compilation disc.
She's released her debut CD, CLOSE TO HOME. This is finely crafted and honestly hard to believe it's from someone still wet behind the ears on this level, though she's been performing live since the age of 5.
The lead track "Let's Talk About Love" gives a definite premonition of what's to come, both on the disc and in this artist's future. Sultry vocals and tantalizing arrangements are prevalent throughout the track, as well as the album in general. Other straightout rockers include "I", "Heaven Knows" and "Slipping Away". They not only round out Dahlia's obvious talents, the guitar riffs are the glue holding the puzzle in place.
Dahlia taps into her soul with the accoustically-driven "You're Coming Home", "I Believe" and the sombrefully powerful "Die For You". Showcasing her country influences, their slick pop edge all give good representation of Dahlia's subtle and melodic undertones, and her incredible diversity.
CLOSE TO HOME is rounded out with everything EXCEPT 'filler'. "Honestly", "Someday" and "Meet Again Someday" give the album its full body, giving the listener a hint of Dahlia's true musical diversity. But it's the quirky impromptu jam session "Happy Here With Me" that really captures her in her personal true essence. Guitar in hand, she lulls you with the story of an obsessed lover, bondage, voodoo, duct tape and viagara. What's not to love?
This collection of pop and rock gems is just one of those CD's that will quite naturally make its way into your regular rotation. There is absolutely not even a single bad track on CLOSE TO HOME. Every song stands on its own, with its own unique charm and each a potential hit. Dahlia wrote or collaborated on all 10 tracks, displaying superb depth in her writing. The production from her bandmates Greg and Lyle is top notch, making you wonder why this artist hasn't been picked up by a major label ... yet.
CD review: Down This Road
By: Dan Brisebois
Her debut in 2003 was exceptional, and she somehow managed to outdo it with this follow-up, backed with the maturity that goes along with it. DOWN THIS ROAD is full of emotion, strong production, and bristling with energy, whether it's the cover of Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It Be Good," (arguably better than the original - as the song just seems to lend itself better to a woman singing, personal opinion), to any of a number of the potential chart hits. Along with producer and co-writer of the majority of the material Jim Stoeber, DOWN THIS ROAD sparkles with several gems.
The lead-off title track gives you a premonition of some of the incredible talent this artist possesses, with the energy and enthusiasm throughout the 10 that lets you know this is something truly special. The production alone is worth its weight in gold, with thought and care in each and every hook in each and every track.
Dahlia pours her heart into the tender ballads "I Still Do," and "Lost In A Dream." She somehow finds the balance between writing a soft ballad without being 'mellow.' Anything but needlessly laid back, "In Retrospect" and "Just For Tonight," with their upbeat are like a turbo-charged street machine in idle ... it purrs ... and you know it's taking off like a bat out of hell.
"Alive" and "Full Moon On A Friday Night" are the complete package. Tight hooks charged with energy, slick production, they perfectly showcase Dahlia's talent and are indicative of the entire album. The lyrics are thoughtful, personal and retrospective, and Dahlia's vocal prowess is easily and without question one of the strongest on the Alberta scene.
"Are You Listening?" and "All I Need" round out the CD. They're anything but 'filler,' merely the icing on the very delicious cake. There really isn't a single lull on the disc, and there are some tracks that are just plain exceptional. You're going to have your favourites. It's only natural. Her passion for her craft is unmistakeable. Make no mistake about it, there's absolutely nothing stopping Dahlia Wakefield from taking the country by storm.
CD review: Full Circle
By: Dan Brisebois
With FULL CIRCLE, the Edmonton native has indeed completed this leg of her musical journey, returning to the roots of her musical soul after a five year hiatus. The album is eight original tracks, many co-written with producer Jim Stoeber, and is an enjoyable ride that smoothly shifts gears, from the care-free "Lazy Days of Summer" to the reflection on life in "Winter in Alberta."
Personal experience plays a huge role with her in the writing process, and the songs have a certain natural maturity built in to them. Songs like "Strength in Adversity" and "Simple Things" stem from her own growth, not only as an artist, but as a person during her five year break between albums. She's gotten married, had a pair of kids, and taken time to reflect on life in general. She's been able to take a step back and see the music business from an outside perspective, which gives FULL CIRCLE a depth it wouldn't have otherwise.
Many of the songs start out slow but pick up pace. Others, like "Right Here With You" and "The Bird Flies Away" maintain a steady rhythm throughout the album. Even the tender ballad "Beautiful," about the joy of becoming a mother and completing the family, is lull-free, and engages the listener from beginning to end, in an overall well-crafted album.