From the exotically primitive portrait on the album’s jacket to the untamed sounds inside, Whomanfoursays is a daring album. The recording, Toronto-born Lisa Dabello’s first in three years, signals a dramatic departure from the singer’s carefree pop style. Part of the credit must go to her musical partnership with guitarist-producer Mick Ronson (David Bowie, The Payola$). But Dabello, as she now calls herself, has obviously undergone a profound personal metamorphosis as well. Insipid love songs have given way to complex, unsettling pieces about passion, domination and doubt. On the lusty “Gonna Get Close to You” she sings about stalking her romantic prey “like a hungry criminal,” while on “Animal” she is “drunk with savagery.” Dalbello’s emotional vocals range from faint whispers to piercing screams, and the music’s dense tones complement them with swirling synthesizers and stark percussion. At times some of her visions are too dark and introspective, but the dazzling, thoughtful Whomanfoursays confirms Dalbello’s stunning creative growth.
Originally published in Maclean’s 9 July 1984