Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Blues, Soul, Jazz
Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Discography: Bible Belt (2009) The Velveteen Age EP (2010) Speak A Little Louder (2013) Nous (2016)
Record Label: Independent
Diane Birch is one of our favourite singer-songwriters. Her debut 'Bible Belt' is a stunning album and a most worthy addition to your music collection.
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, Diane 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, she 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. Among the players accompanying Diane were guitarist Lenny Kaye of The Patti Smith Group, bassists Adam Blackstone from The Roots, and George Porter of The Meters, acclaimed drummers Stanton Moore of Galactic and Cindy 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 Diane 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 in 2001.
Her critical acclaimed second album "Speak A Little Louder" was released on S-Curve Records on October 15, 2013.
Diane Birch’s latest album, the self-produced 'Nous', is her bravest and most independent work to date. Written and recorded mostly in Berlin, 'Nous' draws on musical influences as varied and rich as Diane's own international upbringing—from her childhood as a preacher’s daughter in Zimbabwe and South Africa, to her wedding dress and black-lipstick days as a Goth teen in Portland, to her late teens in L.A. where she paid her musical dues playing piano and singing covers in fancy hotels. She was discovered on MySpace in 2007, and shortly thereafter moved to London and New York to begin her recording career.
In Nous, Diane channels Ambrosian hymns, moody soul, Debussy and R'n'B, all brought together with an unflagging attention to classic pop songwriting and the intricate possibilities of the piano. Lyrically, Nous explores questions of love, power, gender, and loss, along with Diane's recurring odes to the concept of a "higher self.” Indeed, the album’s title doesn’t only mean “we” in French. Nous is an ancient Greek term for “awareness.”
Working primarily alone with her piano, Diane has crafted a sonic landscape both timeless and contemporary. Saxophone by Stuart Matthewman of Sade and drums by Max Weissenfeldt of Polyversal Souls contribute to Nous’ layered, intelligent instrumentation, fusing touches of her live-band sound from previous albums with delicate forays into programming, sampling, and electronic production.
With two previous critically acclaimed albums on her discography (Bible Belt and Speak A Little Louder), Diane has earned herself a dedicated fan base across the globe, together with respect from a wide range of musicians from Prince, Mark Ronson, Daryl Hall, Stevie Wonder and Kindness.
Nous marks a turning point for Diane, who has both reclaimed creative control of her music and expanded her territory, crafting an album of intimate resonance and deep, reaching, soul.