Monday, 30 March 2009

Alela Diane : City Life 5 out of 5 Review

"Let's call it the lure of the mild frontier. Bearded backwoods-thinking boys and thriftstore chic gals showing their roots. Recorded in an Applachian-style shed all the better. Use of mandolin scores extra.

The latest wave of young artists tapping into what Greil Marcus called the Old Weird America are a mixed bunch. For every Bon Iver or Midlake there’s a Carter Family-lite copyist or some yodelling poseur.

But Alela Diane Menig is one of the gems. Admittedly cult first album Pirate’s Gospel was a primitive affair but a Deaf Institute concert showcasing sophomore effort To Be Still didn’t suffer from the absence of the string-driven sheen on record.

Though in truth it was a charmingly ramshackle band backing that incredible voice, with a flinty grain underpinning occasional whooping excess (we won’t use the Y word).

Dad Tom was on mandolin and assorted country-style guitar, very tight and accomplished, but the bass player appeared to be auditioning in his head for some Laurel Canyon country rock band circa 1970 while the hairy drummer looked too hippy-dippy even to join Vetiver.

And yet. And yet. It all created a joyous whole. Stand-outs such as Dry Grass and Shadows, Tatted Lace and Every Path shone like timeless country/folk classics.

Adele Diane has inevitably been compared with Nevada City (confusingly it’s in North California) compadre Joanna Newsom or Laura Veirs, but I’d aim her into the Gillian Welch league.

And that’s praise.

A little more variety in lyric and tempo perhaps would help, but this is a stunning singer in there for the long haul."

See the full review on City Life here