Alina Simone moves on from Russian poetry to her own tunes

Have you heard of Alina Simone? If not, this won’t be the last time. The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter dynamo recently released Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware, a collection of covers of songs by Russian punk-rock poet Yanka Dyagileva, to critical acclaim.

Alina’s riveting live shows capture the audience in thrall, despite the fact that most of us don’t speak a word of the language she’s singing in. The emotion comes across loud and clear, gallows-humor tales of passion and despair. Her sound is reminiscent of early PJ Harvey — spare, bluesy rock guitar framing a rich, hungry voice.

Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Alina Simone came to the U.S. as a baby, growing up in Massachusetts. In addition to writing and performing music, she is an accomplished photographer. The detailed documentary-maker’s eye she brings to her photography is evident in the literary still-life quality of her own songs.

Alina is currently preparing her new album, an English-language CD of her own sharp and savory material. In December, she will head up to cold, cold Montreal to work with producer Howard Ian Bilerman, the producer-mastermind behind lush delights by Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Sounds like a heavenly match to me.

I’m hoping the new album will include the infectious “Beautiful Machine,” a gorgeous yearning rocker that has become a staple of her encores, with its evocative lyrical landscape portraits and damn convincing assertion that “I want to feel love/Get caught in the echo chamber/I want to get crushed in the beautiful machine.” Even more than on the righteous covers of Yanka’s pearls, this song gives me chills. I’m so looking forward to what Alina Simone has in store for ’09.

Have you heard Alina Simone?