Alela Diane is a woman who understands uncertainty. In the past four years, she’s grappled with the kind of devastating, tumultuous circumstances that would bench most people, yet she’s emerged with three albums during these shifts. I first came to her music in 2011 because of my unmitigated obsession with Fleet Foxes in college, when she opened for the band on a string of their tour dates in the Pacific Northwest, the region we’re both from. At the time she was touring her massive, spectral album Alela Diane & The Wild Divine, accompanied by a band that included her dad Tom Menig and then-husband Tom Bevitori. The record was a break from the first two records that gained her any attention; she self-released her initial album Forest Parade in 2003, but The Pirate’s Gospel in 2007 and To Be Still in 2009 earned more comparisons to Joanna Newsom and the freak-folk movement than Wild Divine’s stoic country blues.
Unbeknownst to anyone watching them perform that summer, Diane and Bevitori were on the brink of a split, and two years later in 2013, she released an album called About Farewell that detailed that painful process in intimate detail. It was her own Blue, a remarkably stark, barren admission of mutual failing, mutual pain, and the lucidity of sorrow. The record flew mostly under the radar, but that’s OK, it will be one of those ones that slyly emerges years later, flooring new listeners with its clarity.
Now, Diane is in a new relationship and relatively new mother, struggling with how to balance her maternal responsibilities and musicianship. Enter Ryan Francesconi, something of a folk fixture in Portland, who brought a series of intricately wrought guitar melodies to Diane last October and suggested they collaborate. For those unfamiliar, this is the man who helped arrange Have One On Me — he knows how to take an odd, mesmerizing voice and make it the central character of a larger, unfolding drama. The pair’s resulting record, Cold Moon, came about over the course of last winter, as Diane began working off Francesconi’s compositions to write lyrics and then melodies. Wild Divine was beautiful because Diane’s husky alto was supported on all sides by the band, About Farewell because of its blunt, plain simplicity. Cold Moon manages to combine both of those elements; the sweeping, orchestral arrangements never occlude her warm, grey vocals. Hear the subdued, delicate first release from the album “The Sun Today” below.
Here are their tour dates:
10/17 Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
11/10 Brighton, UK @ Komeda
11/11 London, UK @ Bush Hall
11/12 Canteleu, FR @ Espace Francois Mitterand
11/14 The Hague, NL @ Crossing Borders Festival
11/15 Brussels, BE @ Botanique Orangerie
11/17 Caen, FR @ Big Band Cafe
11/18 Bordeaux, FR @ Rock School Barbey
11/19 San Sebastien, ES @ Intxaurrrundo
11/20 Madrid, ES @ El Sol
11/21 Barcelona, ES @ Festival Musique Sensibles
11/23 Montpellier, FR @ Theatre D’Aurillac
11/24 Paris, FR @ Bouffres Du Nord
Cold Moon is out 10/16 via Rusted Blue Records/Believe Recordings.