To Be Still
Alela Diane grew up in rural Northern California (in the same town as pal Joanna Newsom), surrounded by nature and her parents’ fondness for folk and bluegrass. With a voice as haunting as Cat Power, and as weightless and airy as Hope Sandoval, Diane’s music can be fragile and bracing at the same time. Pedal steel guitars and mournful hillbilly tones on tracks like “Dry Grass & Shadows” or “Age Old Blue” (where Michael Hurley joins Diane on vocals) are as luminous and tranquil as are her softer trills and the sparkling mandolins and 12-strings on tracks like “To Be Still” and “The Ocean.” It’s easy to hear her admiration for the great Sandy Denny on tunes like “Every Path” and “Lady Divine,” where her beautiful voice shows the same kind of confidence and genteel brawniness as Denny’s. Alela Diane recently became part of the Portland, OR music scene, and in 2009 lent her vocals to the Headless Heroes project, a collection of cover songs by artists as varied as Vashti Bunyan and Spaceman 3.