No Fun Zone
Near the turn of the millennium, Beck went from the pink PVC pants and Prince impressions of Midnite Vultures to the mellow acoustified bellyachin’ of Sea Change. It was, in part, a return to the folksier form of his early days, but also a solid step in Beck’s ever-evolving sound. For a teenager of this era, said evolution was still confusing, even knowing the cause. So he got his heart broken? So what! We wanna dance! But alas. When you love an artist, you either grow with them or you give up.
Folkstress Alela Diane has a new record, representing a similar situation: two steps forward, one step back. Anyone who loved Alela Diane & Wild Divine should come at About Farewell prepared to kiss those spunkier folk stylings goodbye, and get acquainted with Alela 1.0. Though the 2011 release was fairly sparse, About Farewell is stripped down to Diane’s foundations-– just a girl, a guitar, and sometimes a violin. And ‘sho nuff, between the two records, her marriage to collaborator Tom Bevitori ended. Nothing like a little heartbreak to take an artist back to the no-fun zone!
Which is not to say that some sad, threadbare tunes don’t have a place in this world. If you’re down for a lengthy dose of delicate, doleful lullabies, you might find Alela’s lamentations (and reflections) are gentle and thoughtful; sleepy but mature. While the record is far from riveting, there are some pieces that leave the listener with a bit to think about. “I Thought I Knew” is an enjoyable piece of poetry-– even if the instrumentation sounds exactly like the other nine tracks on the album.