Another striking female folk singer on the scene: friend of Joanna and friend to cats, Alela Diane. "The Rifle", from her second album The Pirate's Gospel! on Holocene, sounds like a streamlined update of a song you might hear on The Anthology of American Folk Music. It's a tale of being under seige, of hearing the boots coming. It feels historic, from another time ("Papa, get the rifle from its place above the French doors"), but she adds surreal turns of phrase ("I've been holding onto the gold when letting go would free my hands/and I've been tying your tongue in a knot to wrap this death in a sheet") to elevate what might have been a trope into fever-dream territory. Vocally, she's somewhere near a jaded Beth Orton. In addition to "Rifle", there's another song from Gospel for download on her MySpace as well as two streaming tracks from a new 10" on the UK's Names Records, limited to 500 copies.
MP3: Alela Diane - The Rifle
Mark Eitzel will perform "Friend of the Devil" as part of The American Beauty Project, which features complete performances of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, January 20 and 21 at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in NYC (free!). Other performances of note include Jay Farrar tackling "Candyman" and Espers covering "Til the Morning Comes". Full details here.
Audiofile has a nice, sad track from the new Ron Sexsmith album Time Being, out for a while in Canada but finally coming to the US January 9th, along with an extensive tour across the country in January. Dates are on Ron's page.
Boston blog Bradley's Almanac has stuck up a live recording of "Grace Cathedral Park" as a sort of bonus track to Mark Kozelek's recent live album Little Drummer Boy. You'll have to scroll down a bit, but it's there.