Review: Alela Diane – Alela Diane & Wild Divine

FINALLY made it back to Graywhale on Thursday. As I was upstairs scanning the indie CDs, this familiar voice drifted over the in-house stereo. Of course, just like any store, when you want help, it’s never around. I patiently waited until someone came back upstairs, which surprisingly took about half an hour. Upon his return, I asked, “Hey, so … a while ago, you had a CD playing that sounded  a lot like Alela Diane. Could you find out who that was?”

Well, ha ha. Guess who just released her newest CD on Tuesday. Guess who bought that very same CD. Guess who’s listening to it right now.

This is the 3rd pass through this new marvel of hers. It gets better and better with each listen. That is by no means to indicate or imply that the first listen was by any means boring; I do not buy boring music. I do take risks from time to time and buy the occasional CD on a hunch, whim, or for no reason at all other than I simply want to buy one. This CD was none of those. Having owned To Be Still for well over a year and The Pirate’s Gospel for just about a year, I was positive that her new CD would be no let-down. As almost always, I was right.

The immediate difference I noticed on this CD is the fact that percussion plays a *much* larger role than on her previous two CDs. about 80% of the tracks on her new CD use drums, as compared to To Be Still, where drums appear on maybe 25-30% of her tracks. It’s a different sound, but it is definitely and uniquely HER. There is just no mistaking that voice. Much like Joana Newsom or Samantha Crain, or Geoff Tate, Geddy Lee … all of whom have incredibly distinctive voices, Alela’s voice shines through as a uniquely polished gem that leaves me begging for more.

Having said all that, the other thing I noticed even while standing around Graywhale was that her voice has grown stronger. Or maybe she’s just using it in a stronger manner. Either way, she has risen to new heights with this new offering.

I love her writing style. Her songs explore her thoughts, feelings and experiences, and she tells them through not just the words, but also through her vocals and how she uses her voice. You can feel the emotion and feeling in how she presents her music. She bares her soul, and you get to live her music–not just hear it.

This is one of those CDs where I have a difficult time picking out stand-out tracks because ALL of them are amazing and beautiful. I can pinpoint “Elijah” as the story-telling track about a woman she meets in France. I love “The Wind” for its incredible ability to relax me even more than the CD does on its own. There’s kind of a Margarita-ville feel to it in that it’s just so … breezy? I can imagine listening to this while sitting on the deck of a boat and staring out at the setting sun off the coast of some place like Pensacola Florida. I dunno. It’s just that easy-going. Love it.

So here’s what you do: find this CD as soon as possible. Amazon has it, as does iTunes. Pick up this new CD, and if you don’t have her other material, pick it up too cuz it’s all awesome.


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