Thursday, February 11, 2016

Album Review: Dilana - Songs From The Motion Picture "Angel Camouflaged"

Time passes faster than we realize. It seems that every time we turn around, we're further down the path of life than we should be. It's an inescapable phenomenon, a reality that we have to cope with. When we're told to seize the day, and to live in the moment, that is why. Not because there's something beautiful about being fully in the present, but because it will slip through our fingers faster than we can clutch to save it. I say this, realizing that it has been three years since we last got new music from Dilana. That was the album "Beautiful Monster", which leads me to a confession. In the name of honesty, I should mention that not only was that my Album Of The Year, but it has climbed in my most recent rankings into my five favorite records ever, because of the emotional gut-punch I get every time I listen to it. Now that I've established I'm probably incapable of being truly objective when it comes to Dilana, given what she has meant to me, we come to why we're here.

This new record isn't actually a new record, but a collection of the songs that were written and recorded for the movie "Angel Camouflaged", which Dilana starred in. As such, I wouldn't feel right grading this as a proper album. A collection is a better term for it.

"Airplane" kicks things off, and is Dilana at her pop best. The guitars have some punk snarl to them, and this is on the heavier end of her music, but it's anchored by a chorus that is a pure melodic gem, and Dilana's vocals are as always phenomenal. There's the perfect blend of pop and rock in there, strong enough to band your head to, but sweet enough to sing along with. That's a hard balance to strike, and this song hits it so well that I found myself playing it on repeat, unable to get it out of my head.

"Double Headed Man" showcases a different side of Dilana, with a blues chord progression, and slide guitar that takes the song into Deep South country. The way Dilana flattens out her voice to get across the attitude is a perfect touch, a deft way of playing to the song's strength, which helps in selling it. "Slaves" keeps the softer tone going, but takes us into the more stark territory that "Beautiful Monster" tackled. There's something about hearing Dilana's voice in a softer setting that speaks louder than any band rocking as hard as they can. There's a vulnerability in her softer tone that makes her sound as though she's pouring her soul into a glass, a double, and sharing her soul with the audience. "Slaves" would have fit perfectly on that album, which is about as high a compliment as I can pay. It's a phenomenal song, the kind she writes that is unforgettably melodic, without needing the veneer of a pop song to subvert the message. It's simply beautiful music that hits me like nothing else.

But lest you think I'm denigrating pop music, "Maybe Just A Little" is purely that, a pop song, and it shows that Dilana can do that better than anyone on the charts as well. There are the stilted guitars of 90s guitar pop bands, and a beat as driving as can be for a song that is so restrained, but the highlight is Dilana's droning melody through the chorus, which turns the song into melancholy pop, which is a startlingly effective sound. "Everywhere" is a more traditional rock-oriented pop song, but that doesn't make it any less. It might lack the emotional heft of the previous tracks, but Dilana's ear for melody continues to hit the mark, crafting songs that feel familiar at first blush.

We round out the record with three songs that have been available before. "Ice" was on her album "Inside Out", but this version is a stripped-down affair that largely puts the focus on just her voice and a lone acoustic guitar. The song has always been beautiful, but it's never sounded as heart-breaking as it does here. And to cap things off, we get the grungy "Supersoul" and the edgy "Sexaholic". They're still good songs that I've listened to many times, but by virtue of their approach, they can't make the same impact as the more raw, emotional songs here.

As I said, I don't think it's fair to judge this as an album. With several songs that have been available before, and just under half an hour of music here, it's better to look at this as a way of rounding out a collection of Dilana's music. In that regard, this is a triumphant release that provides us the opportunity to hear songs that deserve to have a life beyond that movie. I consider myself a devoted fan of Dilana, and now that I've heard songs like "Slaves" and "Maybe Just A Little", I feel bad that we've missed out on these tracks until now.

Dilana has yet to disappoint, and this collection of songs continues that trend. I can only wait with baited breath for what comes next.

1 comment:

  1. A Tremendous Review for this BEAUTIFUL LITTLE LADY & Her Amazing Collection of Music from Angel Camouflaged!! This cd will by no means disappoint fans of DILANA music as every song is delivered with True DILANA excellence!!! It has already become a favorite of mine & I just purchased it at Brian's Backyard Bar BQ Thursday Night!! ROCK ON MAMA!! MORE GREAT THINGS TO COME FOR YOU!! XXXXXX