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There's never been any shortage of confession in Alela Diane's lyrics. From 'the pirate's gospel' onwards, Diane has found it a necessity to take us into her world of pastoral happiness and tragedy and all that it encompasses, simultaneously celebrating the traditions and family aspect while bemoaning the somewhat claustrophobic effect of such close-knit groups.

Never was this more evident than in 'Take Us Back' on To Be Still - while describing scenes from her childhood, the repeated chorus (simply "take us back, oh take us back") never quite sounds convincing; there's a contradiction for her there where she feels the comfort of her old life while being terrified of slipping into the dark undercurrents (evidenced most clearly when she details the stream near a friends house where "the strength of water can sink a man").

This was followed by her most confessional and downright heartbreaking works to date in the shape of About Farewell, an album born of divorce. Not so much seeking a reinvention but a separation from her husband and collaborator Tom Bevitori, it marked a very personal portion of her career defined by a very definite loss. It still stands out in Diane's career as her most down to earth and perhaps straightforward work to date - it's an album of farewells and a milepost in her definition of herself. It was clear from the premise to the execution that Diane's work was going to move on.

"Tell me what was it like to go from here, to leave this place for the great unknown" Diane sings on the closing track 'Roy' from her new album. While not directly about her divorce from Bevitori, it's easy to get lost and to think of it as a footnote to her divorce - once more we find Diane dealing with loss and separation, a growing theme in her world, and one that repeat itself on this album.

Alongside her beautiful yet threateningly close to cliché descriptions of nature, loss and darkness seem to be the themes that Diane has chosen to wrap herself in, and is aided by Joanna Newsom collaborator Francesconi expertly. If there was a person to choose to accompany heavy, lyrically dense and texturally complex songs it would be Francesconi, who expertly navigated his way around Newsom's vision to arrange the still stunning 'Have One On Me.

While Diane's instrumentation hasn't run through a huge change, the atmosphere of her songs certainly has, thanks to Francesconi's guitar work. It's a departure for her while staying close - her lyrics have been freed from the tight framework she set for herself early on from Pirates Gospel onwards and are thrust out into the open - with varying effect. It's here that we start to hear the limitations of the album - for all the beauty here, there's substance lacking.

While in the past Diane's analogies and metaphors have stood up alongside her American gothic imagery, here it feels somewhat rushed. There are brilliant moments, but on tracks such as 'Migration', her repeated talk of death and souls sound somewhat uncharacteristically heavy-handed - where in the past the compositions surrounding her have given weight to these moments, here they don't seem to click and end up coming across poorly weighted and poorly thought out. The same happens at several points in the album - the moments cued up by both Diane and Francesconi to be the most dynamically diverse and dramatic come out somewhat lumpy and awkward.

There are huge highlights here ('Cold Moon' is one of the finest Diane tracks to date) but the overall effect of the album feels stunted. There's huge potential here but for every time the two of them click ('Cold Moon', 'Quiet Corner', 'No Thought Of Leaving') there's an opposite track when they feel out of sync and blunted ('Migration', 'Cold Moon', 'Roy'). While this doesn't feel like the next step, it has huge potential and it will be exciting to hear Diane & Francesconi do next.

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