Alela Diane – To Be Still [Album Review]

by Woody on May 19, 2009

alela diane

I had the pleasure of catching Alela Diane in Chicago recently, opening for Blitzen Trapper.‚  Oz had been talking up Alela and her debut, A Pirate’s Gospel, for quite some time but it fell on deaf ears. I’d read comparisons to Joanna Newsom (not a huge fan) and immediately stopped paying attention.

As the show drew closer I downloaded Alela Diane’s latest album, To Be Still, and was immediately overwhelmed by her voice. As it turns out, her sound is a perfect match for her appearance. I hate to use to term “hippie” because its somewhat trite, but her natural beauty and vocals lead me to imagine myself listening to this album in field of wildflowers. It’s an amazing thing to have low expectations for an album and then walk away completely blown away.

After downloading A Pirate’s Gospel only the week before, I couldn’t have been prepared for the understated brilliance that Diane delivers on To Be Still. The opening track, “Dry Grass And Shadows,” has some laid back pedal-steel that subtlety permeates the tune and is absolutely hypnotizing. Alela’s father, Tom Menig, sings harmony on “Age Old Blue” a couple songs later and the the contrast of his weathered voice against Alela’s is something special.

To Be Still has a timeless feel to it. It sounds like it could have been released 30 years ago while still sounding very relevant to today. It’s one of the best releases of the year.

MySpace | Rough Trade Records

Alela Diane – White As Diamonds

Video: Alela Diane – White As Diamonds

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Artisan May 19, 2009 at 2:07 pm

I agree with you. Her voice is definitely something that is unique to her and her lifestyle. Really a pleasure to listen to, as it’s something different. I don’t think she’s someone that I would have found on my own. It reminds me of an updated folk song from a long time ago. Awesome stuff.

Aaron Robert Hall May 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

This woman has an amazing voice. The kind of voice that reaches inside you and squeezes to make sure you feel something. When listening to Alela Diane, I usually find myself with eyes closed clutching my headphones as close as possible to my ears as not to miss anything.

Sam May 19, 2009 at 3:08 pm

She has almost a bluegrass tint to her melody in this song. It’s super soothing. Makes me want to sit under the trees and contemplate the beauty of nature.

Joe May 19, 2009 at 6:42 pm

I agree wholly with this post. I hate it when singers look nothing like how she sounds, but she really sounds exactly the way she should. I also dislike Joanna Newsom. Good man, Woody.

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