Dadalú - Período

Periodo, Dadalú

Michita Rex, Chile

Rating: 73

by Pierre Lestruhaut

Before listening to Dadalú’s debut album Período, there weren’t many clues as to what to expect from it, but almost everyone agreed it was bound to be special (even if out-of-control). For better or for worst, Daniela Saldias is the kind of individual that can easily jump from style to style, from one genre to the next; in the past, her eclectic spectrum has seen the light of ska, indie rock, rap, electropop, and even stand-up comedy.

After several years of anticipation, and working on other projects (most notably Coléctivo Etéreo), in 2010 the world had its first taste of Dadalú’s solo career, in the form of the absolute killer single "Gracias." A knockout single that in just 3 minutes, proved that Dadalú was succesfully developing a style of her own, far from her work in the past. You could feel an incredible shifting pace in her flow, a stream of consciousness in her rhyming, & the use of jazzy playful melodies to surround her lyrical virtue. And in an extremely uncharasteric fashion for either hip-hop or pop music, Dadalú appeared to be singing to gratitude, as it was said earlier in Club Fonograma: “reuniting her skills and sharp style to put on a modern (and very personal) template of appreciation.”

But now in her debut album Período, she manages to display her palette of influences way beyond the soulful orchestration of the outstanding single. Infectious synth lines, heavy jazzy strings, and dance-pop appeal predominate throughout the album. The idea of condensing such an eclectic array of sounds into one album is compelling, and risky. Yet Dadalú's seldom succeeds at it. For instance her attempts at writing dance-pop anthems works very well in the case of “Brilla”, even if she’s far from the appeal and elegance of the chilean dance-pop juggernauts of 2010 that were Mena and Dënver. But there's also much room for improvement in the composition department; while the nu-jazzy pieces shine, the more ska-ish pieces feel a bit like unnecessary wild fillers (far from the grandiose debut single).

On the other hand, lyrically speaking, with a name like Período, one could expect a bit of female pathology to be pulling the album’s strings. Its first half is indeed driven by the thematics of failure and frustration, like the humorous post-adolescent cry of facing the complications of the real world in “Se necesita vendedora”. And at the same time she loses herself with exhausting rants of confusion and complication - that from a male perspective - I can only guess are probably related to “those days”. But Dadalú succeeds a lot better later on in her joyful portraits of finding your better half in “Brilla” and “Te quiero tanto”. In this last one she refinds the orchestration style of “Gracias”, but now uses it at the service of beautiful pop balladry, weaving the excitement of her declaration of love around the soulful brass melodies that blend in perfectly with her teenage and innocent voice.

An extremely difficult album to categorize, Período ends up being more like Dadalú condensating most of her influences in a 10-track-30-minute record format, than trying to settle on one particular genre or idea. Even if all of her attemps at diversifying this record aren’t as rewarding as we might have expected, it’s still a very compelling concept, and a solid debut in the solo career of a talented singer/rapper/comedian/songwriter with an already considerable body of work.