Expectations are a tricky thing in music - they can bring you in, push you away, make you give something much more of a chance, or give up on it more quickly. This record for me is the experience we've all had where some patience was greatly rewarded. I liked the record on first impression, but find it dialing in more with each successive listen. Now I can't put the CD away, am moving it from home to car to office.
Alela's singing is a rare combination of multi-octave technically great, emotionally expressive, tasteful, super cool, and never overdone. She delivers the song.
The production by Scott Litt (R.E.M., Nirvana, the Replacements, and a long list) is outstanding, using a filled out sound to capture the full expression of each song but still keep the focus on Alela Diane's strong, memorable voice.
My favorite songs here are not the slightest bit "folk" (not that folk songs or even "freak folk" songs are bad): - one is a gentle and perfect pop song, "Desire", two are country songs "Long Way Down" and "Of Many Colors" and "Heartless Highway" is this slightly jazzy slow groove with a killer vocal hook about two minutes in ("But I've got to get back, I've got to get back..."). Listen here:
There is some excellent guitar work here too by Tom Bevitori and Tom Medig, Diane's husband and father, respectively. It's a family affair.
Not many videos available to embed yet, but there are excellent studio performances of "Elijah" and "To Begin", songs from this CD here (see left column in link), along with a great deal of other artist info: http://www.aleladiane.com/
In the end, it's all about that voice. Truly special. Here's a taste: