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2018 release. Alela Diane returns with Cusp, the long-awaited follow up to 2013's critically-acclaimed About Farewell. Whilst both albums could be described as born of love, Cusp is perhaps love at it's purest, and most complex - for in music, one of the most transformative experiences a woman can have is also an unspoken artistic taboo: Have a baby if you must. But for goodness' sake, don't write songs about it. Portland, Oregon based singer songwriter Alela Diane has a problem with that. "This music is about motherhood," Alela says of Cusp. "Even just by saying that, it feels like people will write you off. As women, our music is sold based on our sex-appeal. There's a lack of spaces for women to move into that aren't based on appearance. Those are conversations I'm interested in having." Cusp was written in January 2016 in a small cabin deep within snowy woods where Alela resided during a three-week artist residency at Caldera, Oregan, alone for the first time since becoming a mother. A broken thumbnail resulted in Alela's signature finger-plucking being replaced by songwriting on a grand piano, resulting in the most piano driven album of her career, fueled by that energy that only comes with facing and falling in love with something new. Cusp explores the weight and beauty of creating life, with Alela refusing to stray from her perspective as a mother and woman. Cusp was recorded at Flora Playback, produced by Peter M. Murray and mixed by Noah Georgeson, with the album also featuring contributions from Ryan Francesconi (Joanna Newsom), Rob Burger (Iron & Wine), Peter Broderick, Heather Woods Broderick (Sharon Van Etten), Luke Ydstie (Blind Pilot), and Daniel Hunt (Neko Case).
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Cusp is about motherhood in its different aspects, and the songs again show Alela's remarkable ability to express what is in a human heart. Lyrically brilliant and full of her trademark lovely but slightly quirky melodies, it's a collection of very fine songs. There are some absolute stunners among them, like Song For Sandy (about the death of Sandy Denny) and Yellow Gold, and the whole album is a classy treat.
I probably don’t need to go on at length here; if you know Alela Diane's work, it's enough to say that this is among her best. If you don't, I strongly recommend that you give this a try. It really is top-class stuff.