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Alela Diane featuring Alina Hardin - Alela & Alina

Released on Rough Trade Records, 10/6/09

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Alela Diane has been touring incessantly over the past year to support the success of her third release, To Be Still. Released last February on Rough Trade, it is wonderfully layered, both delicate and commanding, and a wholly significant modern folk album in structure and sound.

Surprisingly, Diane has found the time to record and release a new EP with fellow northern California folk singer and tour-mate Alina Hardin entitled, Alela & Alina, a six-song taste of the future of these accomplished craftswomen. With three originals (two written by Diane and one by Hardin), two traditional pieces, and one cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rake”, Alela & Alina ricochet the listener from present-day ponderings to the more conventional story tale sonnets of the past and then back again.

Though the album as a whole is versatile, contemplative and quite lovely to listen to, the addition of Hardin brings undoubted freshness to the methodology of Diane’s songwriting. Just as the duet between Diane and her father on To Be Still, “Age Old Blue”, was the stand out track, so is Hardin’s “Crying Wolf” on Alela & Alina. A wonderful, harmonious convergence of the two voices from beginning to end while the song, dripping sorrow, almost seems to leak through your senses and leave you feeling quite enchanted. “Rake” is a stunning rendition of an already spectacular song and overall Alela & Alina is a real treat to tide those of us over who are anxiously awaiting their next full-length releases.