Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 

Alela Diane: 14 August 2009 - Union Hall, Brooklyn

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Aug 25, 2009
Three unique women vocalists from Australia, Oregon and Brooklyn carried a night of modern folk music that, as the headlining Alela Diane put it, made sense together.

Alela Diane, a Portland, Oregon transplant from Nevada City, California, took the spotlight at a packed Union Hall recently after sets from Melbourne, Australia’s Luluc and Bushwick’s own Sharon Van Etten.
  


Diane admitted she missed her father, an influence and member of her band (on her MySpace page Diane lists one of her influences as: “My parents singing in the kitchen - I’d wake to hear their songs - I’d fall asleep to them.”) Her father was busy touring with his Grateful Dead tribute band, the DeadBeats (he’s the lead guitarist). So Diane had backup from Alina Hardin on guitar (above left), and Matt Bauer (above right) on banjo.


It’s great - and rare - to play with other musicians whose music “makes sense together,” Diane said mid-set. Indeed, Luluc, fitted on the bill late in the schedule, conducts minimalist, vocal-driven modern folk songs that complemented the heady lyrics and complex melodies of guitar-and-vocal outfit Sharon Van Etten (above). Luluc lead singer Zoe Randell has a voice like Nico - those elongated, full-bodied vowel sounds - and is backed by light-as-a-feather guitars from Steve Hassett.


Van Etten, pictured with Julie Fader (above left), has a stage presence reminiscent of early St. Vincent: just a semi-acoustic, a woman, and a unique viewpoint reinforced by a powerful set of cords. She isn’t afraid to turn up the volume, but in the live setting, even the rawest songs are rendered shiny and precise, with her voice leading the way. Van Etten was supported by Fader, who also plays with Chad VanGaalen and Great Lake Swimmers, on “For You,” from Van Etten’s acclaimed recent LP Because I Was In Love.


Diane chose a number of songs from To Be Still, her second LP, released in February, including “White As Diamonds” and a pared-down version of “My Brambles.” She also included a a traditional carried over from her childhood, a handful of new songs from an upcoming EP, and included “Oh! My Mama” from her debut, The Pirate’s Gospel, in the encore.

Related Articles
By Steve Leftridge, Taylor Coe, Chris Conaton, and Steve Horowitz
10 Dec 2013
Our list for 2013 is predictably diverse, ranging from progressive newgrass to tradition-minded country to old-time acoustic to California canyon rock to psych folk to singer-songwriter and all points between.
24 Jun 2013
About Farewell's only failing is that it clocks in at a mere 33 minutes in length. It leaves one gasping for more.
By Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan
30 May 2013
Get the early word on anticipated new albums by Camera Obscura, Smith Westerns, and Eleanor Friedberger, as well as a listing of June's releases.
22 Nov 2011
Smith has a quirky voice with a warble that resembles the freak-folk style of Joanna Newsom and Alela Diane. But while there is something Western about those two singers, Smith’s vocals have a Midwestern, plaintive air.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.