Album review: Alela Diane
To Be Still
Facts about this album:
The songs from Alela Diane’s previous album ‘The Pirate’s Gospel’, were recorded in Alela’s father’s studio and were initially self-released in 2004, in paper and lace sleeves with hand lettering.
Alela Diane likes to live up to the title of ‘To Be Still’, confessing in her blog “I need an activity or another job or something. Lazy is my actual name these days.”
Alela Diane’s hometown, Nevada City, has produced more than its fair share of musical talent: Joanna Newsom, avant-garde minimalist Terry Riley, and composer Harry Hersh.
Alela Diane’s ‘The Pirate’s Gospel’ was 2006’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. Rough Trade Shops’ Album Of The Year, it was a wyrd-country word-of-mouth hit, low on instrumentation and high on dark, deranged melody, with a media-friendly sob-story behind it (she started writing because her parents split up). This time around she went for the secluded-cabin mythology: penning it in one with only her cat for company. Turns out she got happy(-ish) there, faded down the Celtic tint in favour of a more bluegrass one, and fleshed her sound out with drums and steel guitar. Somewhere, though, that magical strangeness got smudged. Her pipes can still be transportational, but mostly they deliver nice, docile music to stroke cats to.