Kicking off her 2018 tour at London’s Union Chapel felt fitting for Alela Diane, who only a few months earlier was performing in the similarly religious, but much more intimate setting of St Pancras Old Church in London. For this multi-instrumentalist, whose music is gifted with sophisticated harmonisation and folkloric lyrics, it was the perfect setting.
As soon as Alela Diane walked onto the stage and performed her first song ‘Albatross’, the crowd immediately appeared to relax into a serene musical blanket, one that enveloped the room until the very last song. Playing tracks from her latest album Cusp, this gig gave the American singer-songwriter an opportunity to share the inspiration behind some of the songs on this new record. ‘Song for Sandy, which carries a deep sadness, was written by Diane just after having her first child and in ode as she told us to “one of her favourite musicians”, the English folk singer Sandy Denny. The lyrics of this song illustrate the heart-breaking story of Denny’s life just before her unexpected death in 1978 aged just 31. The poignancy of the song’s lyrics, lingered in the air of the Union Chapel long after song was over.
“She said motherless children have a hard time, when mother’s gone… but she left her baby girl alone and nothing could be done, nothing could be done.”
Being able to weave the lessons that she has learnt from life into the fabric of her music is what makes you quieten down and listen to Alela Diane. At one point I closed my eyes and let the music just carry me. This is an artist whose voice is so much more spectacular live because you can really hear the maturity and experience in every note sung. Her performance of ‘Ether & Wood’ was my favourite track of the night. Hearing the song’s impactful harmonies made me wish that I hadn’t left the acapella choir that I joined when I was at school.
Alela Diane was not alone onstage creating these beautiful sounds; she was accompanied by two equally musically gifted singer/musicians who between them mastered cello, violin, piano, flute, the treble recorder as well as percussion.
For long-term fans, ‘About Farewell’ and ‘The Rifle’ from previous albums About Farewell and The Pirate Gospel were also performed. The show closed with the song ‘Wild Ceaseless Song’, written for her daughter Vera. We were given an additional three songs in the encore and the crowd gave this astonishing artist a well-deserved round of raucous of applause. If ever life’s most treasured moments required a soundtrack, then Alela Diane would be a sure-fire contender to provide it.
For fans of First Aid Kit, Laura Marling and Phoebe Bridges, Alela Diane continues on her tour across Europe, before returning to the US. She will be coming back to the UK and performing at London’s Union Chapel again on the 19th November 2018.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.