IRIS DEMENT plays Hugh's Room Saturday and Sunday (October 20 and 21). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Sing The Delta is acclaimed country and folk singer Iris DeMent's first album of new material in 16 years. Religion remains a dominant theme, but these are personal, contemporary story songs that centre on DeMent's signature plain delivery, the gospel-soul horn arrangements and the occasional wailed vocal (as on the title track, a love song to the Delta).
DeMent has moved almost entirely to the piano, focusing on long, slow ballads about her mother and father, her complicated relationship with religion and internal life struggles. But guitar takes the lead on The Night I Learned How Not To Pray, making it a jangly standout. It's also one of the most moving songs she's ever written.
Top track: The Night I Learned How Not To Pray