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Alela Diane - To Be Still

Released on Rough Trade Records, 2/17/09

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Listening to To Be Still, the third release from Nevada City native Alela Diane, what immediately comes across is the confidence Diane projects within the song structure and sound.

The pieces are lovely, a definite nod to the psych-folk movement that has been flowing out of that area for the past handful of years, and they are only enhanced by the absolute command she displays in her vocal aptitude. Her ability to be at once lilting and fierce, graceful and absolute, is simply stunning. The instrumentation on the album is rich and layered, something Diane took some time with considering it was coming from someone used to solo guitar work and bare vocals.

The attention to structure and arrangement comes across gracefully and as each note is plucked it creates a fluidity, the momentum carrying the listener easily on from song to song, and back to the beginning once again. Songs like “Tatted Lace” and “White As Diamonds” carry the strange and striking duality of being both mournful and glorious, reflective and magnificent.

To be sure, To Be Still is heavy with feeling. There is not one moment that goes by without the weight of the sound propelling you further on. It is a much needed and refreshing direction for Diane to be leading the genre, and a definite accomplishment within her own style.