We don’t half enjoy a good tag-team – behave, not like that (well, yes, but that’s not for here). The thought of our Portland folk darling Alela Diane hooking up with guitarist Ryan Francesconi for Cold Moon seems, on paper at least, to be a prospect as tantalising as a Plant-Krauss.
With Diane at the helm, there’s always going to be the sort of wondrous stargazing familiar to the genre mixed with deep missives riding on that thick vocal. She’s at a different point in her life now compared to previous records, a new mother unsure of how to re-engage with her music, and Cold Moon makes sure we know that whether its the title itself or the subdued delivery of Quiet Corner. That continues on the brazen confessional, No Thought Of Leaving: “thrown into the music, thrown into the light/ thrown into the beauty, thrown into the strife” sums up that struggle somewhat. If Diane has been forcibly thrust into creating this record, it has also pushed her writing further than before.
The only real thing missing here is the positivity that Diane’s records previously had, a track like The Alder Trees or White As Diamonds, but understandably she’s not at that place any more. Instead, this is a more elegiac, wintry album that reflects the December of her mind. And on the rare occasion that words fail, its Francesconi’s rich tapestry of chords that fills in the blanks. Songs like Migration feel up there with her career best, a reflective and meandering stare, and the clarity that can only be brought by having someone else hold up the mirror without a note of discord. In Francesconi, she has found the perfect partner to do just that, and it works an absolute charm.
Cold Moon by Alela Diane & Ryan Francesconi can be ordered here.