photos by Jim Bennett
When I first heard of a the new-folk genre, I was prepared for peyote tripping bearded men in flannel and countless Mother Earths with soothing, psychedelic voices and delicate folk harmonies; one listen to Alela Diane and I too was tripping the countryside fantastic. The Nevada City, California native has been bringing her psychedelic brand of folk and Americana ever since fellow Nevada City native Joanna Newsom invited her to perform in 2003. Interestingly enough, although both of her parents are musicians, Alela believed her future lay in graphic design, learning only the simplest of chords in high school before setting music aside. However, things abruptly changed when her parents divorced and sold the family home, and Alela began to write music to deal with her emotions. Hitting the scene at the age of 20 (she’s now 26 years young), she’s been hard at work ever since, developing her beautiful, gentle, melodies and earthy, soulful voice while sharing the stage with artists like The Decemberists, Akron/Family, and Vashti Bunyan. Alela has since relocated to Portland, and her latest effort, To Be Still, out now on Rough Trade, was recorded in 2007 and 2008 in Portland and her father’s home studio in Nevada City between tours. Get calm, relax, and give “White as Diamonds” a listen for an audio snapshot into Alela’s slightly strange and delicate world.