“The Rifle” by Alela Diane, from The Pirate’s Gospel (2004):
Fusing Regina Spektor’s theatrical lingual inventiveness with P.J. Harvey’s sensuous anti-diva intensity, Nevada City, California’s Alele Diane crafts bewitchingly transfixing folk. On the singer-songwriter’s latest album, 2006’s The Pirate’s Gospel, guitars and strings act as percussive throw rugs for Diane’s playfully precise vocal acrobatics. Caught up in her starkly intimate songs are nurturing moms, tumbling feathers, rifles loaded to fend off invaders, and the odd whistling solo. Syllables are tantilizingly teased out, granted unfamiliar inflections, and massaged until Denig is singing like Natalie Merchant on 10,000 Maniacs’ Hope Chest. The sound that emerges is a totally different, if slightly familiar, language.