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To Be Still - EP

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To Be Still’ is the title track from Diane’s sophomore album and is a meditative and lyrical evocation of folk pastoralism. This isn’t to say that Diane is a revivalist concerned only with antiquity and content to trade on folkisms or archetypes. Instead Diane uses the frameworks of folk and blues without becoming reverential, yielding poignant narratives all told by that beautiful, plaintive voice. ‘Fat Mama’ sketches a tale of a housewife in a faded backwoods town – “she cooks and she washes and carries on all day long” and acts as a companion piece to ‘The Ocean’ from To Be Still. There is a similar honesty and depth of interpretation at its heart. The sparse melancholia of her debut The Pirate’s Gospel has been augmented by an increase of, in her own words, “instrumental filigree”. This is particularly the case on ‘To Be Still’. Woozy sighs of dreamlike pedal steel guitar accompany Diane’s vocal, as clear as still water, alongside finger-picked guitar and mallet drums. Despite this newfound ornamentation there is an economy in phrase and execution across the three tracks. Diane’s diction is less cluttered and an unhurried approach to production and songwriting yields great results. Yes, heritage acts are marketable right now (see also: Fleet Foxes, Joanna Newsom etcetera ad nauseum) but the quality of Diane’s work allows her to also transcend any attempt at positioning or typecasting.


Born: 20 April 1983 in Nevada City, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Part of the nouveau psych-folk movement that took shape as the first decade of the 21st century drew to a close, the American-born singer/songwriter Alela Diane got her start thanks to a well-received, self-released recording (2003's Forest Parade) and a helping hand from established scenester Joanna Newsom. After a short stint with the group Black Bear and a European vacation, Diane returned to the States and began work on her next album, which saw the light of day as The Pirate's Gospel in 2004....
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To Be Still - EP, Alela Diane
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