Yet another Portland act I was introduced to by James is singer-songwriter Alela Diane. Her most recent album, The Pirate's Gospel, was re-released last fall and has earned high praise from both local and national media (as well as fan Joanna Newsom). Her music is generally in the realm of understated indie-folk, with often dark themes and sparse instrumentation. Her lovely voice over acoustic guitar is a treat, encouraging the listener to concentrate on her often-narrative lyrics. An obvious comparison is early Cat Power, but I'm pretty sure there's some equivalent of Godwin's Law that prevents me from comparing female singer-songwriters to Chan. So I won't do that. Ahem.
Alela Diane - The Rifle
The Pirate's Gospel is available from Holocene Music. She has also since (December 2006) released a limited-edition vinyl EP that can be purchased from Rough Trade. For more 411, check her out on Myspace.