The most devastating thing Alela Diane sings on her new album — and there are many — goes like this: “I heard somebody say / That the brightest lights / Cast the biggest shadows / So honey, I’ve got to let you go.”
That comes from “About Farewell,” the title track of the album, which addresses the heartache and renewal that trail a failed marriage. After a pair of records that amplified her aesthetic more along the lines of rustic country, her latest is a return to simpler forms, a testament to the power of an acoustic guitar backing an artist with something to say (and with a voice you’d expect from a saloon singer).
At times the songs are so visceral, you almost feel sheepish knowing so intimately what Diane endured. She paints her sense of loss in vivid hues. “Honey, there is nothing I can do,” she repeats on “Nothing I Can Do,” before unleashing the guillotine: “. . . to save you from yourself.” Later in the song she calls her man “a hound without a collar.”
Only toward the end of the album does Diane, who was raised in California and is now based in Portland, Ore., admit she might have been to blame, too. “Oh, the mess I’ve made,” she sings over the pastoral melancholy of “Rose & Thorn.” But “About Farewell” isn’t about pointing fingers. It’s a brave account of how you can fall out of love just as easily as you fell in. Like the first blush of a new romance, it is intoxicating. (Out Tuesday digitally, in stores July 30)
ESSENTIAL “About Farewell”