Fans of Shelby Lynne will find a kindred soul in Alela Diane, who opens this album with the appropriately titled “To Begin,” a ’60s-flavored nod to Memphis soul as would have been performed by one of Lynne’s prime influences, Dusty Springfield. The song, and others here, may surprise owners of Diane’s earlier releases; the singer has purposely pushed herself out of her comfort zone in the name of artistic pursuit.

The results are very good on numbers like the twangy “Long Way Down,” where the lyrics and arrangement recall the work of the great songwriter Townes Van Zandt, on the high-lonesome bluegrass of “The Wind” and on “White Horse,” another cut that could stand up to the Lynne catalog. This album shows Diane to be an excellent writer and a good singer, and if it gets the exposure it deserves, it will move her quickly from the underground to the hip mainstream.

Grade: B



Alela Diane & Wild Divine is currently available.