When: Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m. 2015
A few years ago Iris DeMent ended a 16-year drought of original recordings with the release of Sing the Delta, an album that captures her switch from guitar to piano as well as her continuing embrace of gospel. It’s hard for me to stop hungering for more new material, but I’ll happily settle for the stunning The Trackless Woods (released on the singer’s own Flariella imprint). On it DeMent composes 18 lovely settings for poems by Russian modernist Anna Akhmatova, whose work was largely silenced during the Stalin era. DeMent and her husband, Greg Brown, adopted a Russian infant in 2005, and the album’s liner-note essay explains that the project is an attempt to give the child back some of the heritage she lost by leaving her homeland behind. And DeMent seems like one of few who could situate Akhmatova’s extraordinary writing so gracefully within country and gospel melodies, whether in melancholy full-band readings or stripped-down parlor-room arrangements. “From the Oriental Notebook” expresses a fleeting sense of romantic connection formed while in a foreign land, while “All Is Sold” celebrates enduring beauty, both urban and rustic, in the face of cataclysm. DeMent’s honeyed warble—a force of rural American beauty—delivers the translations with a blend of sweetness and sorrow, bringing out universal truths undiminished by time or geography. In “From an Airplane” Akhmatov expresses love of country despite her experience of watching war-torn Russia in decay. DeMent sings, “Nothing can divide us,” a sentiment that surely resonates during the ugly discord afflicting the U.S. right now.
Price: sold out