Nevada’s Alela Diane now residing in the musically fertile Portland, Oregon is an extremely extremely (yes I’m saying it twice) talented guitar and song lady, it’s infuriating to read of genre tags of ‘Psych Folk’ and ‘New weird America’ (which actually mean nothing) attached to her, it’s an insult and takes away her grace as a singer and a songwriter. O.k. that’s enough gushing.
To Be Still is Alela Diane’s third album after the self release of Forest Parade in 2003 and The Pirates Gospel in 2004 (Pirates Gospel got a studio release with revised tracklisting in 2006). Anyone who’s fallen for her through the spellbinding Pirate’s Gospel will be equally smitten here as she starts off with the lovely band and pedal steel guitar aided ‘Dry Grass & Shadows’. Songs melt together as the album tumbles along, title track ‘To Be Still’ and ‘The Adler Trees’ could be added to a Joni Mitchell playlist for someone being introduced to the music of the great lady, and not know the difference. You may ask ‘but can she hit those high notes?’, yes she can. O.k that’s enough gushing.
Where To be Still evolves from Pirates Gospel is the backing band and the pedal steel giving the record that warm ‘country’ feel. There are more people involved on this record and it’s all the better for it. ‘Take us back’ is wonderful and ‘Tatted Lace’ is unforgettable with her voice simply running away with the song as it climaxes.
For the torrent of old time sounding folk singers doing the rounds at the moment it may be possible that Alela Diane gets lost under the radar with her subtleness and shhh factor. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, then again lets hope it does, just so we can keep her. Gush.