CD Review: Dahlia Dumont – Edith Piaf Comes To Brooklyn on a Reggae Bandwagon

Dahlia DumontArtist: Dahlia Dumont & The Blue Dahlia
Title:  The Blue Dahlia
Label: self produced
Genre: Pop-Reggae/French Reggae-Ska

CD Review by Dawoud Kringle

The second decade of the 21st century ushered in an unforeseen phenomenon: pretty young women with ukuleles. Those of us who were born in the 60s and 70s sure didn’t see this coming! And with such women who seek a serious professional career, they have a lot of preconceived ideas to get past. So, with as much of an open mind as I could muster (suppressing the subtle sexism I was programmed with in my native culture), I wondered what The Blue Daliah had to offer.

Daliah Dumont assembled a very tight band for this CD (Dumont – ukulele, vocals; George Saenz – accordion, trombone, keyboard, acoustic guitar; Diego Cebollero – guitar; Yoshiki Yamada – bass; Chris Hansen – drums, percussion; and guests Hayden Gandolfi – cello; Gabriel Richards – vocals; Octavio Romano – guitar; TransLucent – MC; and ElaNEF – beatbox). The performances, production, and recording are all first rate.

Dumont composed and arranged all the music on this CD, except Charles Tenet‘s “QueReste t-il de Nos Amours” (with its tip of the hat to Django Rhinehardt). The songwriting is really interesting. Dumont’s French / Reggae / South American influences blend together nicely, and the songs give the band a great deal of potential to work off of. They switch styles as easily as an Italian sports car shifts gears.

Dumont is the focal point for all this. Her vocals are marvelous. Singing with equal fluency in English and French, her vocals have a passionate and eloquent way of not only conveying the intellectual meaning of the song, but also drawing the listener into Dumont’s inner world. The influence of Edith Piaf is obvious; and she makes it her own. There is no way to listen to her music without knowing that she really means every word she sings.

The CD seems to have the kind of energy and immediacy that a live performance would have. Dumont’s persona comes across as one of those women around whom people gather, and to whom all attention is centered. But this is not contrived or calculated; her charisma is natural and effortless. This is the inescapable impression and effect of her music. She’s the woman who, when a lively song is played, pulls you to the dance floor and makes you cut loose, calls you at 3 AM crying because she had a fight with her boyfriend, brings you homemade chicken soup when you’re sick with a cold, changes her hair style and color every other week, and adds life to every situation she’s in. I don’t know Dumont personally, nor have I ever met her, but this is the dramatic imagery her music leaves the listener with.