Top positive review
114 people found this helpful
on October 3, 2012
I attended a Greg Brown concert recently. Bo Ramsey, in addition to being Greg's side man, opened the show and mentioned that he had worked on this album of Iris's which he highly recommended.
Stylistically, Iris DeMent is quite different from her husband. Where GB is deep voiced, political, a touch crude, Iris is girlish, sincere, and quite twangy. She reminds me of Gillian Welch in that throwback, red-dirt-girl kind of way. Her voice is so distinctive and a bit of an acquired taste. As she has gotten older the voice has mellowed. It is so evocative of rural Arkansas where she was born. Unlike Greg Brown, you will not find Iris with a pocket full of brand new songs. Clearly she takes her time, thinks very carefully about what she wants to say and how to say it best. This album is quite special and echoes the theme of Infamous Angel from 1992: Iris paying tribute to her mom and like a good daughter showing the wisdom of her mother's life lessons.
The record is truly a family affair. Bo Ramsey is one of the family. He is married to Greg's daughter Pieta Brown. He tours with Greg and Pieta and has worked on everyone's albums. Pieta gets the photo credits for the album, including the classic cover photo. The other musicians on this album are not so familiar to me, but I like to imagine they are like family to Iris. Fittingly, the album is dedicated to Dasha, the Russian-born daughter she and GB adopted several years ago. I found it quite touching that she thanked Greg "for never losing faith in me." I imagine the harder battle for this humble and talented woman is not to lose faith in herself.
I found myself unexpectedly moved to tears by Before the Colors Fade. Another high point: Mama Was Always Tellin' Her Truth. But really, there is not a weak song on this album. Maybe not too surprising if you figure she's been working on this one since her last album 16 years ago. I plan to spend a lot of time listening to this one. Iris DeMent has a lot to say and I want to hear every bit of it.
Update 9/9/13 - It's almost too embarrassing to admit, but I was enjoying this album again over the weekend and really took notice of the piano. It is so fine. And that is Iris herself playing that thing. I am even more blown away than I was initially. This is a very special album.