Alela Diane’s Powerful “About Farewell”

Alela Diane in Amsterdam, April 2009.<A href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/treenaks/">Martijn van de Streek</a>/Flickr

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Alela Diane
About Farewell
Rusted Blue Records

It’s amazing how many artists on today’s indie scene are old-fashioned folk musicians passing for someone trendier. California’s Alela Diane has been making haunting, out-of-time albums (sometimes self-released) for a decade, and About Farewell is one of her most powerful. After enlisting producer Scott Litt of R.E.M. fame to provide a poppier veneer on her last outing, Alela Diane and Wild Divine, she’s back to minimal frills with this brooding collection devoted to rejection, regret, and misguided desire.

Despite occasional sweetening from strings or piano, these eloquently downhearted ballads, perhaps inspired by her real-life divorce, would be equally potent with just guitar. Diane has “one foot out the door” on the eerie title track, while, on the elegant “I Thought I Was Wrong,” she observes, “I’d only just arrived and I foresaw the end.” The spare “Hazel Street” finds her confessing: “I woke up drunk on that basement floor,” implying a far seedier reality than her restrained performance would suggest.

About Farewell might be mopey solipsism coming from a lesser singer, but the grave beauty of Diane’s voice transcends self-indulgence. Like the great Sandy Denny, she conveys a stoic intensity that’s consistently spellbinding.

 

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