Iris DeMent – Sing the Delta

January 01, 1970



On her arrival in the
early ‘90s, Iris DeMent was widely hailed as an artist on par with Emmylou
Harris, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin. Unfortunately, her sparse output over
the past two decades has relegated her to the also-ran category, and eight
years after her last album, DeMent now finds herself in the position of trying
to regain old ground. Happily though, Sing
the Delta may be the album
to do just that; her first collection of wholly original material in 16 years,
it finds her digging back into the Pentecostal roots sown by her devout
religious upbringing.


Finding common ground
with 2004’s songs of faith collection Lifeline, it also appears to take its cue from
Griffin’s recent gospel offering, Downtown
Church. Regardless, Sing the Delta does a remarkably fine job of summoning
up fervent faith with a stirring set of torch songs that are both profound and
inspired. “The Kingdom Has Already Come,” “Sing the Delta” and “There’s a Whole
Lotta Heaven” capture those sentiments best, however there’s not a single song
here that doesn’t deviate from that charged template. Co-producers Bo Ramsey
and Richard Bennett have secured a superb cast of supporting players — Al
Perkins and Reese Winans among them — but ultimately it’s the combination of a
solitary piano and Dement’s searing, soulful vocals that give this effort its
authentic archival feel and strict spiritual noir. Sweeping and stirring in its
emotional depth, Sing
the Delta happily finds DeMent
testifying to her beliefs with feeling.


DOWNLOAD: “The Kingdom Has Already Come,” “Sing
the Delta,” “There’s a Whole Lotta Heaven” LEE ZIMMERMAN


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