Like any fan of Morrissey, I’m quite charmed by those bluntly self-deprecating existential realists. I recently got a chance to chat with Portland folk singer/songstress Alela Diane, whose fourth LP, About Farewell, was released this past Tuesday digitally (It will be out physically July 30th.) and she quite charmed me. I asked her about the chance of getting to see her later this year on a US tour… and apparently not.
“It’s pretty unlikely that I’ll do a US tour this time. In the past I was always under the impression that something will change and it’ll get big. Shows on the coast are fine and I enjoy travelling the country, but I’ll do a show in the middle of the country and there’ll be like ten people there and it’s simply not worth it for me… I don’t want to play in dive bars, especially these songs, which are very delicate and need a certain kind of space. At this point, I’m under no impression that things are going to all-of-a-sudden change. I mean, I just turned 30 and I’ve put out four records. I’m not like the next hot new thing. I’m 30. I’m very aware of that and I’m totally fine with that.”
However, Diane is far from bitter. In fact, she tells me she’s quite excited for the touring she is going to get to do in the near future: “I am going to Europe and I’m going to tour the record there. I’ve gained some more success there and get to play some really cool venues. I’m just going to go to the places where I feel good and feel valued.” She also tells me that she’s very happy with the time she’s spent in Portland, since 2005: “The music scene here is great. That’s why I moved here. I love acts like Laura Gibson, Blitzen Trapper, and Sallie Ford.”
Not surprisingly, when I ask Diane about the album’s inspiration, she laughs, as casually reminiscing about recent heartache and healing: “I was just switching things up and changing everything completely. I mean, it’s mainly inspired by my divorce and it’s a devastating record, but I’ve come out in a much better place, which I guess is a highlight of recent years.” In addition to her divorce, the album seems to explore both the loss and sendoff of love and lovers in general, which she claims is a record that she not so much wanted to make, but needed to make (At the end of the day, aren’t those really the only records worth listening to?) The songs are exquisite in craft, but often hard to listen to, for the manner in which they likely reflect your own existential traumas.
In addition to the changes in her state of mind, for her fourth release, Alela Diane has changed her take on writing and recording. She did away with her band, Wild Divine, and opted to do this one solo. She also chose to do the composing on her own, instead of working with her dad, which she has been doing for quite a few years now, and she’s very happy with the results.
“This record was me coming back to myself and exploring my sounds without any outside influences. It feels different from what I’ve been doing in a lot of ways, but it’s a return to where I began. This has me doing more the singer/songwriter thing, which is how I started. The songs are so personal that I didn’t feel as though they needed collaboration. I didn’t feel they wanted to be handled that way. I have an easier time just calling the shots and following whatever tangents I want to pursue.”