Now here's a lovely surprise. A singer-songwriter who hails from Nevada City, California, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon, Alela Diane Menig has a voice that seems far older than her early-twenty-something years. This version of her second album has been newly mastered, slightly truncated, and resequenced: the changes are all for the better. But if you've not heard her before, that's cool; her early releases were all on her own CD-R label. Her sing-songy tunes are honest and earthy, her diction intense and mannered but never pretentious. It's hard to believe this crisp recording was made in a home studio. The songs--plaintive vocals accompanied by a slight guitar and backing vocals, often little else--seem situated perfectly between the parlor and the campfire. Alela's a talented vocalist, in the vein of Josephine Foster, Regina Spektor, and Jolie Holland. At times she even approaches the heights of Karen Dalton and Joni Mitchell. More soon, please! --Mike McGonigal
2006's The Pirate's Gospel
was the debut release from singer and songwriter Alela Diane. Hailing from the deep woods and winding rivers of Northern California Gold Rush town Nevada City, Alela grew up singing songs with her parents (both musicians). During a stay in San Francisco in 2003, she began teaching herself guitar and writing her first songs, blending tense, trance-like arpeggios, with warm, thick vocals and meditative lyrics about family and nature. Written in response to a loss of home and familiarity, The Pirate's Gospel
is a powerful document of personal reevaluation and renewal set against the backdrop of generations past and future, mothers and fathers, life, death, and birth.