“This is about second chances,” Ebe said at the launch of his first solo record, Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig last week, and immediately you feel his gratitude for having been given a second chance.
That sound bite is but an echo of the thoughts he puts forward in his record.
On opening song “Muli,” he sings "Maaari ba tayong magsimula muli?" and you know he’s coming from somewhere, what it is exactly, we can’t seem to pin down.
Is it guilt? Gratitude? Anxiety? We don’t know. But we hear it loud and clear.
Listen to the record in its entirety and you feel his earnestness and just how heartfelt this gratitude is; we could almost see an imaginary throbbing vein on the singer’s neck as his voice soars over the guitars, over the bass, over the drums, over the people’s cheering for him, over even himself.
This over-compensation, for lack of a better word, should give listeners a pretty clear picture of where Ebe is coming from. Because this over-compensation, for lack of a better word, is written all over the record. Ebe Dancel clearly went for the kill.
From the high-energy opener of lead single “Muli,” to the intense schmaltz of numbers like “Wag Kang Mag-alala,” to the careful production of songs like “Hanggang sa Dulo,” all the way to the lyrics of all ten songs. Ebe went for the kill.
And he would have killed successfully, too, if what he’s offering as a solo artist didn’t sound as familiar. Or, if the drama of the first few songs didn’t weigh us down. It isn’t so much that he sounds like (an inspired) Sugarfree as it is that he sounds like himself. Seven years ago. Something is amiss and it’s not Ebe’s fault.
Because wow, Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig is a pretty good album. Or, hold on, the more accurate statement would be this: Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig is one hell of a tight album. “Isang Probinsyano sa Maynila” started as a song for and about our national hero—see just how inspired Ebe is? At the launch, he tells everyone present that soon, he found himself writing about…himself. Apparently, Ebe experienced being away from his family and motherfucker, was that difficult.
If we remember right, “Wag Kang Mag-alala” was the song he wrote in regret for not having written anything his wife’s march down the aisle. His emotions are all over the five-minuter: It’s tender and sweet and with lines like “kanya-kanyang trip at panaginip,” it’s sincere and honest. Unfortunately, it is more than five minutes long and because it is a ballad, feels more than that.