As rumination on the shattering tragedy of lost love, About Farewell is wrenching and affecting.

Alela Diane makes wistful, sombre folk music laced with exquisitely eloquent poetry. Her songs are like finely woven webs of steel – the outwardly delicate tales have an underlying strength.

Her fourth album, About Farewell, is largely the product of a cathartic post-divorce purging, and in the songs her pain is evident. On the title track she opines, “seven years to you dear heart is all that I can give / And I know that without me you’ll find just what you need / Deep down somewhere,” and then in ‘Rose & Thorn’ she muses, “Said what I needed to say / I guess / Left those words hanging / Like a ruined dress“.

But there is also some levity to be found amongst the sadness. She learns to approach her situation with a sense of acceptance in the mournful ‘Nothing I Can Do’ and reaches a new place of self-awareness on ‘Lost Land’: “I’m a lost land / In the blue / I’m walking sometime somewhere / It is beautiful.”

Diane enlisted some gifted friends to flesh out the instrumentation on About Farewell. Heather Broderick (Efterklang, Horse Feathers) provided feather-light flute and piano, and Holcombe Waller-arranged strings.

About Farewell is interwoven with Diane’s journey from heartbreak through sadness and confusion until she arrives at a place of acceptance and awareness. She recalls folk ladies like Joanna Newsom (the discordant strings and guitar of ‘Before The Leaving’) and Karen Dalton (the tragic recounts in ‘Colorado Blue’ and ‘Hazel Street’). While some songs may not be the most musically engaging, Diane’s voice is clear and beautiful, and her poetry is faultless: “A light by the bed / Stains on the floor / And it’s here I will wait out the storm / Killing time on the fringes again.”

3.5/5 stars


About Farewell is out now through Spunk.

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