Alina Simone's second album, Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware, is a collection of cover songs from underground Russian punk-folk singer Yanka Dyagileva. Simone, who herself was born in the Ukraine but came to the United States as a baby, said in a recent NPR interview that the choice to record an album where she sings entirely in Russian was a chance for her to reconnect with her family's culture and to bring the country's rock and punk-folk tradition to the attention of people in America. But these grander intentions would be moot if the music on Everyone didn't compel the listener to find out more about the origins of Dyagileva's music. Its songs are packed with emotional intensity, while the Eastern-European flavor of these arrangements provides a glimpse at Cold War-era Russia, which is when Dyagileva wrote these dark folk laments. "Half of My Kingdom" is a stripped-down, forlorn dirge that floats along on Simone's lo-fi acoustic strum; her desperate voice veers between delicate and wispy and gritty and powerful, calling to mind Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker.
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