Alela Diane at Union Chapel
With an offering of pure poetry instilled into harmonious pieces, Alela Diane – in London for the first show of her Cusp tour – delivers an exquisite concert at Union Chapel, proving she is still on top form.
The Californian folk singer opens the night with Albatross, a song with rising tones which mimics the flapping of the large seabird’s wings. The piano – just as predominant as the guitar in the new album – is accompanied by violins and cymbals.
Many factors combine at the gig to create an incredibly evocative atmosphere: from the graceful all-female trio on the stage to the modest white dress of the frontwoman; from the colourful light beams of the venue to the amazingly flowing tunes.
Natural elements undeniably constitute a central component for Diane, who inserts water into almost every track, both through words and sounds. In Buoyant and Colorado Blue, the songwriter cleverly combines the low keys and arpeggios of piano and guitar to render the relaxing soundscapes of trickling rivers and falling snow.
Motherhood and familiar relationships represent the thematic core of the artist’s new production. In Wild Ceaseless Song – dedicated to her daughter Elvira – the vocalist imbues the lyrics with the tender love of a parent, letting all the hopes and delight of expecting a child resonate through the number. She describes what her dreams were like while the baby was still in the womb. It is difficult not to be enraptured by such gentle lines as: “How your yellow hair would catch the light.” The bump, often seen as an inopportune forced break in the career and life of a woman, becomes indeed the vivid inspiration for brilliant new melodies.
As a mother now responsible for the life of another human being inside her, the singer feels a different kind of empathy which aligns her with new artistic influences. Sandy Denny – to whom Alela pays tribute with Song for Sandy – is one of them.
Émigré was probably the highlight of the night: encapsulating a distinct and enjoyable folk rhythm as well as thematic explorations of the universal maternal instinct, the drama of migration and the vastness of the ocean. The guitar interprets the rolling of the waves against the boats while the violin gives depth. The “salty wind”, as we hear in the chorus, seems to be truly caressing the face.
“I feel so lucky,” Alela states in reference to the venue for the night. Union Chapel indeed is an incredibly perfect location, providing the added value of a temple-like resonance to the event.
Photos: Guifre de Peray
For further information and future events visit Alela Diane’s website here.
Watch the video for Émigré here: