Self-released via her own label Rusted Blue Records, Alela Diane’s third album About Farewell returns to her songwriting roots. Where the previous record was a collaborative band effort, About Farewell is a more stripped-down folk catharsis. Diane wrote most of the lyrics on tour, trying to maintain the relationship with her then-husband and bandmate when “There are four white walls in every damn hotel”, as she puts it in “Before the Leaving”. Setting the lyrics to music by herself afterwards, she realised that she needed a divorce. Accordingly, the title track explains that “Seven years to you, dear heart, is all that I can give.” Saying farewell not only to her husband but also to an entire decade of relationships, this is a record about being left and leaving.
In the process, she is looking at dead ends or, to steal a line from “Colorado Blue”, “taking photographs / In the cul-de-sac”. Complemented by her actual black-and-white photographs of a room and lace patterns in the booklet, the lyrics more often than not feature houses. Perhaps because they represent the domestic space where relationships frequently are negotiated. Diane sings about entering houses, leaving houses and being left in them. There is everything from taking a shower in the dark of a high school boyfriend’s mother’s house in “Colorado Blue” to an August proposal on a basement floor in “Hazel Street”.
No matter how dark the songs get, it is difficult to suppress as a smile whenever another one of Diane’s brilliant similes flares up − such as “smiling like a shadow” (“The Way We Fall”), “I’m as helpless as tomorrow” (“Nothing I Can Do”) and “Left these words a-hanging / Like a ruined dress” (“Rose & Thorn”). Similarly, the way her deep voice casually sweeps across the instruments, sometimes running off like wildfire, and conveys strength even in vulnerable moments, is magnificent. Especially in the glowing “The Way We Fall” and “Nothing I Can Do”.
Upon the release of About Farewell, Diane said, in an interview with eMusic: “I still don’t know if it’s easier to leave or to be left. It’s really terrible either way.” However, there is some optimism on the album: a vision of hope at the end of “Lost Land” and, in the liner notes, a thank you to “Bramble Rose, Home, Love, Life & The Great Unknown!”
While, sadly, Alela Diane’s upcoming gigs take her nowhere near the UK, you can still enjoy some great live performances of her new songs:
KEXP peformance with “Colorado Blue”, “Lost Land”, “Rose & Thorn” and “About Farewell”
“The Way We Fall”
Review by: Anne Malewski
About Farewell is released 29 July 2013