Alela Diane – About Farewell

alela-diane_about-farewellHeartache, love loss and moving on resound throughout Alela Diane’s excellent new album About Farewell. The fourth studio full length from the Portland based musician and soon to be mother has its protagonist touch on a new and phenomenal ground of talent; hinted at but not truly realised on 2011’s Alela Diane & Wild Divine.

The immediate difference between the two albums is that About Farewell is negative, but it's a cynicism blessed by beautiful imagery and a stunning composition. The lead, eponymous song sets the scene: that of Alela waving farewell to her now ex husband and touring guitarist Tom Bevitori, a key motivator for Alela Diane & Wild Divine and a presence missing from this album in more ways than one.

This is not a breakup album in the traditional sense. Rather than focus on the destruction of the relationship itself, Alela sets her sights on the interim between getting up and walking away. Her content wavers midair, contemplating what the end of this era means for her and her lover. The result is a touching, delicate ode to love gone wrong and Alela coming to understand, seemingly over the course of recording, that her time with Bevitori has come to a close. Alela’s words shine brightest on opening track “Colorado Blue”, which has the strength of a musician wise beyond her years, and “Hazel Street”, sung in a voice painfully loaded with memory.

Neither does Alela paint herself as the victim on About Farewell. “The Way We Fall” comes closest to self-pity, with Alela admitting she drank “whisky from the bottle” prior to “the last time”. “Colorado Blue” and “Nothing I Can Do” pins some of the blame on her lover, but both songs conclude in a resolute, almost therapeutic acceptance. In fact, the moments where Alela admits responsibility are the most poignant. “Black Sheep” and finale “Rose & Thorn” are smothered in accepted guilt, pinning the singer songwriter as the cause of the loss as though it were her birthright.

This brings us to the second way in which Bevitori and Wild Divide’s presence is lacking. About Farewell takes two steps backward, not in terms of achievement, but in style. While Alela Diane & Wild Divide sings with embellishment, About Farewell is an altogether different animal, drawing better comparison to Alela’s stunning acoustic debut album The Pirate’s Gospel. These new songs are stripped in every sense of the word: Alela has mimicked the raw and unapologetic content of About Farewell with minimal instrumentation. It’s something that new fans may find hard to swallow, but Alela’s extraordinary talent means About Farewell lacks nothing.

This is a country album with the grace of a jazz singer, the mind of an empowered woman and the production of a musician born again. About Farewell will certainly make it onto our end of year list, and we’re willing to bet it’ll make it high.

Release: 29th July 2013, Believe Records


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