Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley and Brad Kopplin
Every time Alela Diane sings one of her songs, a firefly gets its fire. The energy from her old soul voice creates spontaneous bioluminescence to occur in thin and thick air. Look behind you, she encourages and spreads it through more than just insects. There might be no greater compliment for a musician than to compare them to the mechanics and operations of nature - to be talked about in the same breath as catalyst of a gentle spring rainstorm or the miracle of birth. Can you imagine the pride? Without hesitation, bestowing that distinction on Diane - a young lady from Nevada City - is a no-brainer.
On The Pirate's Gospel, Diane builds a world that exists on the periphery of all those far-out, antiquated maritime and Civil War-era yarns that the Decemberists tailor. It's the real world in a way and it's the world of fairy tale a la pal Joanna Newsom, as well as the time warped world of chasing love/gathering in spring of Midlake's Van Occupanther land. It's that theme park that rests in between those two very different, but compatible settings. It's a world that one pictures with a lot of foliage and soft footing, a place where babbling brooks learn their alphabets and begin cooing sonnets to their banks. It's a place that only exists in colors that appear yellowed, or burnt by time's leanings. It's California before the Gold Rush, before the dirty prospectors and the dirty curse words. It's that overwhelming feeling that what you're hearing in "My Brambles" or "The Rifle" is the actual growth of the limbs of a towering oak tree. It's the branches stretching their reach sideways until there's nothing left to grasp and it just grows old, standing in one place, sad, but content.
Curiously, Diane's greatest strength is in the way she can hold us entranced as if a swinging, golden pocket watch was filling our eyes with sleepiness. Her storylines play under a moonlight's beams and they're pulled along by a team of gorgeously strong and patient oxen, yoked to a deep black night sky sprinkled with all of the thousands of lightning bugs that owe their identifiable existence to her mouth.