With an inimitable voice as John Prine described, “like you’ve heard, but not really,” and unforgettable melodies rooted in hymns, gospel, and old country music, Iris DeMent is simply one of the finest singer-songwriters in America as well as one of our fiercest advocates for human rights. On her transcendent new record, Workin’ On A World, Iris DeMent faces the modern world — as it is right now — with its climate catastrophe, pandemic illness, and epidemic of violence and social injustice — and not only asks us how we can keep working towards a better world, but implores us to love each other, despite our very different ways of seeing. Her songs are her way of healing our broken inner and outer spaces.
Her debut record Infamous Angel, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, was recently named one of the “greatest country albums of all time” by Rolling Stone, and the two albums that followed, My Life and The Way I Should, were both nominated for GRAMMYs. From there, DeMent released three records on her own label, Flariella Records, the most recent of which, The Trackless Woods (2015), was hailed as “a quietly powerful triumph” by The Guardian. DeMent’s songs have also been featured in film (True Grit) and television (The Leftovers) and recorded by numerous artists. Fittingly, she received the Americana Music Trailblazer Award in 2017.
Workin’ On A World, her seventh album, started with the worry that woke DeMent up after the 2016 elections: how can we survive this? “Every day some new trauma was being added to the old ones that kept repeating themselves, and like everybody else, I was just trying to bear up under it all,” she recalls. She returned to a truth she had known since childhood: music is medicine. “My mom always had a way of finding the song that would prove equal to whatever situation we were facing. Throughout my life, songs have been lending me a hand. Writing songs, singing songs, putting them on records, has been a way for me to extend that hand to others.”
With grace, courage, and soul, Iris shares 13 anthems — love songs, really — to and for our broken inner and outer worlds. DeMent sets the stage for the album with the title track in which she moves from a sense of despair towards a place of promise. “Now I’m workin’ on a world I may never see / Joinin’ forces with the warriors of love / Who came before and will follow you and me.”
With opening act Ana Egge.
“Ana is the folk Nina Simone.” – Lucinda Williams
Egge burst onto the music scene with her debut album, 1997’s River Under the Road, which All Music noted “signals the arrival of a unique songwriting perspective and moving new voice.” She was named “Best Singer Songwriter” and “Best Folk Artist” the following year at the Austin Music Awards. Since then, Egge has consistently garnered critical praise for her music, and has worked with producers Steve Earle, Joel Plaskett, Alec Spiegelman, and Stewart Lerman and recorded with Billy Strings, Anais Mitchell and Iris DeMent. Her songs have been licensed for TV shows on MTV and Showtime and recorded by other influential roots musicians like Dave Alvin, Laurie Lewis and Slaid Cleaves. No Depression hailed her 2017 release, White Tiger, as “nothing less than a balm for the soul” and Folk Alleyproclaimed that 2019’s Is It the Kiss brought “great, honest songs to the collective consciousness.”
Tickets are on sale for Friends on 2/28 at 12pm; general on sale is 3/3 at 12pm.