Beautiful homespun songs with deep conviction
The youngest of 14 children, Iris DeMent was born in Paragould, Arkansas, and moved to California with her devoutly religious family when she was three. As a teenager she absorbed the country music of Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash, as well as the folk classics of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Her 1992 debut album, "Infamous Angel," distilled these influences into a poetic yet down-to-earth songwriting style. With a heartfelt, homespun voice that listeners recognize instantly, Iris released some of the most powerful roots albums of the 1990s with the beautifully sparse "My Life" and the harder-edged "The Way I Should." She has continued to make powerful and distinctive albums on her own schedule, and her latest is "The Trackless Woods," featuring settings of poems by Russian writer Anna Akhmatova. Brooklyn-based songwriter Ana Egge opens, with new music.