Singer-songwriter Diane Birch took half her lifetime, and traveled across the globe, to get to America, where she literally found her voice and made her remarkable debut, Bible Belt in 2009. Now several years on, following worldwide touring success, Birch is readying to release her sophomore album, Speak A Little Louder, on October 15th.
Writing both alone and with acclaimed Dap Kings-drummer-turned-producer, Homer Steinweiss on much of this new record, together with Aqualung’s Matt Hales (Lianne La Havas, Paloma Faith) and Eg White (of Adele fame), this new collection of songs mark a distinct progression for Diane. Throughout this new record, she lays bare the emotional rollercoaster of her life over the past couple of years; coping with heartbreak at the end of a long-lasting relationship, the pain of losing her father to cancer, and her dance with the light and dark of self on the road to womanhood.
Though only in her late-twenties, Birch likes to think of herself as an “old soul,” and indeed there is a startling maturity in her singing and a veteran’s self-assurance in her writing. With hook-driven songs, Birch mixes piano-playing virtuosity with easy-going soul, and can strike an uplifting groove on even the most melancholy tune. Her work bears hints of Laura Nyro (when she was hanging out with LaBelle) and early 70’s Karen Carpenter (when she was ruling the charts), while effortlessly incorporating New Orleans second-line rhythms, gospel fervor, doo-wop harmonies, country-blues guitar and classic AM radio-style melodies.
Her first album, Bible Belt, was recorded in New York City and New Orleans with a formidable team of Grammy-winning producers: S-Curve Records founder Steve Greenberg, soul legend Betty Wright and Mike Mangini. And among the players accompanying Birch were guitarist Lenny Kaye of The Patti Smith Group, bassists Adam Blackstone from The Roots, and George Porter of The Meters, acclaimed drummers Stanton Mooreof Galactic andCindy Blackman of Lenny Kravitz fame, saxophonist-about-town Lenny Pickett, and trombonist Tom “Bones” Malone, along with veteran singer Eugene Pitt, lead vocalist of fabled Brooklyn vocal group, the Jive Five.
A lengthy period of touring – both at home and overseas – followed, where Birch and her band honed their skills on the road, playing to bigger and bigger audiences and winning die-hard fans. When she returned, while starting to work on new material, she recorded an EP of her favorite Goth covers, released under the title The Velveteen Age.
Now with this incredible body of new work recorded, Diane is poised and ready to introduce to the world the treasures of her personal journey over the past few years.
Speak A Little Louder is out on S-Curve Records on October 15, 2013.