Alina Simone | Everyone Is Crying Out to Me, Beware (54-40 or Fight!)






Alina Simone may not be a household name just yet; however, that doesn’t mean she is any less the talent. Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Simone came to America as a young girl. The daughter of a political refugee, she later graduated from art school in Boston and then moved to Texas where she first began singing in bars. In 2001, by a stroke of luck, the singer came across the album of Yanka Dyagileva, a folk singer from Siberia who died in 1991 under "mysterious circumstances." After listening to the late singer’s songs, Simone became deeply drawn toward Dyagileva’s music and life…so much so that she soon moved to Novosibirsk, Siberia, to become closer to the deceased singer. After living in Dyagileva’s hometown and researching her life, Simone decided to remake Dyagileva’s formerly unreleased album in dedication. In this way, Simone has become a sort of catalyst in which the deceased singer is finally receiving her long-awaited recognition.

For an album composed of lyrics solely sung in Russian, Everyone Is Crying Out to Me, Beware is eerily surreal. Without the knowledge of Dyagileva’s story, or Russian at all for that matter, the album still has a deep eerie feeling about it that borders on psychotic. You wonder if Simone is simply living through the pain of life or about to commit suicide. Either way, the mere thought is proof enough of the pure talent she possesses and the emotion she’s able to bring to Dyagileva’s music.

Ironically, once translated into English, the lyrics get none the less eerie. Singing about death and regrets, Dyagileva’s lyrics echo in Simone’s vocals and you begin to wonder if she knew what was about to happen to her. In the track "Sold," she sings about her death already being "sold to the highest bidder" and a life where she describes herself as "walking the tightrope." In fact, the lyrics to all of Dyagileva’s songs are very obscure and ambiguous, leading the listener to decipher the code behind her many metaphors. For a translation of Simone/Dyagileva’s work with original Dyagileva versions of each track, visit

Using the bare minimum when it comes to instruments, Simone recreates Dyagileva’s album with even more passion than the original. While Dyagileva’s version gives the audience an older and more traditional, simplistic, almost-muffled account of her pains and tribulations, Simone accentuates some of the backbeats and sings each word with such emotion; she doesn’t hold back. She delivers every word on the album as if it were her last; slowly, unwillingly.

The difference between the two artists’ ability to speak freely within their own societies is illustrated in the manner in which they each approach the song. While Dyagileva’s version is more conservative, Simone’s rendition holds nothing back. Even with lyrics as clouded as these, the boldness and forcefulness of her vocals demonstrate her overwhelming emotions. Anyone who finds themselves with the pleasure of listening to Simone’s remarkable work must listen to Dyagileva’s original versions to really appreciate what Simone has done with her tracks. A+ | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Cat Powers

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