Before catching up with The Grates on Saturday night, I made sure to catch the early show at Union Hall. I figure I should actually see somebody I hadn't seen before -- Alela Diane. Her and Marissa Nadler have joined forces to spread good will and good tunes to cities across the land.
Alela Diane's claim to fame is that the people at the Rough Trade shops called her 2007 album, The Pirate's Gospel, the best album for that year. The quality she brings to her work is that she inhabits the characters and portrays their stories in lush detail and with truthful emotion. It's as if she's calling on the ghosts to create these songs. Yeah, it's deep. Even if you don't look deep into her music like I do, you must admit that her voice is distinct.
She's released three projects this year. Her latest solo project is To The End. There are more musically elements to this one, I frankly I like this more than The Pirate's Gospel because it's a little more accessible to my tastes. The production found the right balance between her true voice and the echo effect that she relies on. Next, she collaborated with fellow west coaster Alina Hardin for an EP of covers and originals called Alela and Alina. Finally, the album I've pointed out before and which will make my Top 10 of the year is the Headless Heroes project that takes her voice to completely new level of awesomeness.
So seeing her live was something high on my list. It was just on guitar or her with another guitarists. It was simple, straightforward and soothing. If you can make Union Hall shut up on a Saturday night for the most part then you've done your job. She not that far into her career, but it will interesting to see if she gains some notoriety that would allow her to bring more musicians on stage. Ten years from now, she can be the new Neko Case, and then she can get shocked in Montclair.
Miss Marissa Nadler follow Alela and god bless her, she asked politely for the people to be quiet and people STFU for once. She was so shy about it, "So ... um ... I know it's like ... Saturday night and all ... but I just want to set the mood..." I've seen Marissa before a few years ago with El Perro del Mar and I'll note again how ghostlike her voice is. She had a different tone than Alela, it's a higher register and a little more angelic.
This self-described wallflower lets her lyrics convey her inner-thoughts. Her latest album, Little Hells, is not hot, but more chilling. Like most fine singer-songwriters, what you hear on record is what you hear live. I had the same ideas for Marissa as I did with Alela, a little more a popularity push and she could but all those elements, the lapsteel, the piano and the drums, on stage.