When this collaboration between Alela Diane and her touring companion Alina Hardin opens with ‘Amidst the Movement’, one of Diane’s trademark gutsy folk songs that defies you not to join in with its sing-along chorus, it’s easy to think this EP is merely a supplement to her well-received album To Be Still. It soon becomes clear, however, that this offering is much more than that – it is a master-class in the sublimely simple beauty of classic folk music, delivered by two equally impressive songbirds.
After Hardin’s voice has taken the lead on her own track ‘Crying Wolf’, they spring another surprise on you with the perfect marriage of enchanting voices, unobtrusive guitars and the timeless tale of ‘Matty Groves’. Alela roots this tale of adultery in the tradition that it stems from, her voice providing a world-wise anchoring below Alina’s lighter voice which floats gracefully overhead.
Throughout the EP, these women’s voices complement each other perfectly and add exquisite layers of character to each other’s songs, yet it is when they are pitched perfectly equally on the three covers, including ‘Bowling Green’ and Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Rake’, that the results are most haunting.
Words: Lois Jeary