Alela Diane

To Be Still (Rough Trade)

SXSW Records

Alela Diane

To Be Still (Rough Trade)

Joni Mitchell's very much alive in Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter Alela Diane and her gentle folk songs about the wonders of nature and men with strong hands and California fields that are as titillating as those of longtime friend Joanna Newsom. Unlike Newsom, she lets her lyrics wander rather than indulging in breathless storytelling. Her sophomore LP fills out with a proper band and some inspired duets, such as the generation-spanning tale "Age Old Blue" with eccentric folkie Michael Hurley. Diane's storytelling is all color, scene, and history, and when she sings, "I've known mornings white as diamonds," over the fiddle of "White as Diamonds," there's a synesthesia similar to Mitchell's hissing summer lawns. Toward the end, the gentle folk trot through mountain passes, creeks, and farms starts to get tedious, but Diane has a stellar voice that would fit in Nashville, North Carolina, or Nevada City. (Fri., 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn, 10pm.)

***

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