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Cellist Janel Leppin Desperately Seeks Healing In Mellow Diamond's 'Ashes To Breathe'

Janel Leppin cradles the cello close to her soul. You can hear her on recordings by Eyvind Kang, Evangelista, Marissa Nadler, Priests and Janel & Anthony, her duo with guitarist and husband Anthony Pirog. In her solo music as Mellow Diamond, the D.C.-based musician and composer builds elegantly somber songs through a dense pedal board of effects and loops.

American God is Mellow Diamond's third album in just two years — always arriving in spring — written and recorded during a fraught election and its fall-out. While those references are rarely explicit, you can locate a desperate urgency here. Where past efforts pulled in an arsenal of instruments, Leppin sticks to cello and Mellotron keyboard; that instrumental intimacy swept up in arrangements that cluster around her voice, as delicate and as imposing as a sheet of falling ice.

Like the crystals featured in the video for "Ashes To Breathe," director Dan Sharnoff reflects and refracts images of Leppin and her cello in a prism to mimic the beautifully fervid track. In the burnt-out remains of humanity, Leppin looks for healing: "What once was a curse / Now is paradise / And scorched earth remains / That's what we found."

American God is out now via Bandcamp.

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