Alela Diane, ‘To Be Still’ (Rough Trade)
This small-town California-reared singer could hypnotize forest critters with her mournful, oddly serene voice, which seems to be a timeless element of nature. To Be Still‘s subject matter has a similar eternal quality — lingering dreams, snow-covered mornings, blue eyes, bluer moods — but the music’s arresting calm is so powerful that little else initially matters. Subsequent plays reveal an effortless classicism: It’s difficult to sound this vintage without coming off as contrived, but Alela Diane, her guitarist/producer father, and assorted friends tap into folk archetypes that are often opaquely generalized but always disarmingly pure.
Listen: Alela Diane, “White As Diamonds”