Sing the Delta Flariella ****
“The time it takes is just the time it takes.” Iris DeMent makes light of the 16-year gap between Sing the Delta and her last album of original material, but clearly it’s been a hard journey for the 51-year-old, Arkansas-born country-folk singer. DeMent’s music is not pretty in the conventional sense; her nasal voice, coloured by a classic country tremolo, and her simple though profound lyrics denote a life of struggle, both spiritual and temporal. She’s a natural storyteller. These 12 songs – inspired by complex memories of family, faith and southern roots – are wrapped in timeless country shadings of folk, gospel and soul, and carry a compelling narrative. They all shine individually, notably Before the Colours Fade and There’s a Whole Lotta Heaven, but really are best savoured as a necklace of keen-eyed observations on a simple life.
Download tracks: Before the Colours Fade, There’s a Whole Lotta Heaven