Monday, May 04, 2009

To Be Still - Alela Diane

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Alela Diane's debut album, The Pirate's Gospel, was an album I rather unexpectedly liked. Still the unashamedly low-fi recording of it (it had been knocking around for a couple of years before it made it's "official" bow) meant that whilst it had a certain charm there was something holding it back from being something really special.

The question regarding it's follow up To Be Still was then one of whether or not it could capture those parts of Diane that made her debut so beguiling whilst at the same time offering us a little bit more. I'm pleased to say that for the most part it does.

Whilst it might all be relative, there is indeed a "bigger" set of production values to be heard on this album and it certainly does the trick whilst never neglecting the fact that the real star of the show should be Diane's captivating voice.

Whether it be White As Diamonds proving that Yodelling can still be cool, the playful slightly off-kilter harmonies of Every Path or the way that The Ocean moves from it's low-key starting point of just her voice and a drum beat to a cacophony of guitars, harmonies and mandolin's, there is rarely a duff moment on the album.

To Be Still has taken all that made Alela Diane such an intriguing prospect in the first place and taken it up a notch. It's delicate folk stylings still may not be to everyone's taste (and there's no guaranteeing that this slight "commercialisation" of her sound will pay off) but no-one with a love for the folk side of Americana will be disappointed with what they find here.

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