Editors’ Notes Folksinger Alela Diane expands her sound greatly with the help of a fortified backing group. Where her earlier works were quiet affairs, this 2011 release trends towards a new accessibility. “To Begin,” with its burbling keyboards and bouncy beats, veers closer to pop than folk. But “Elijah” sends things back to the acoustic guitar and to Diane’s trance-like vocals. Her Laurel Canyon folk roots are still in clear evidence even when slightly pushed in other directions. She has a knack for giving her songs familiar titles. “Suzanne” is not the Leonard Cohen standard but her own country-rock tune. “The Wind” is not the Cat Stevens hit, but her own acoustic meditation on nature, among other things. The two-minutes of “Desire” is a compact piece of writing that’s heightened by a stirring melody. “Heartless Highway” is a halting, near juke-joint full-band blowout (if Diane & band are capable of a blowout) that breaks character with glorious results. “Rising Greatness” ends things on a sweet goodbye note. A true talent.

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