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Diana Jones - 27 February 2009

Artist's website:

Diana Jones, like Gillian Welch and Iris Dement, has the uncanny ability to write original songs that sound like they originated a couple centuries ago in some backwoods West Virginia holler... she can sit and sing for a spell on my front porch any time.

She was on BBC4 TV in their three-part documentary series on American folk music.

Increasingly compared to the likes of Iris DeMent and Gillian Welch... Diana Jones writes songs which she sings in such a haunting high lonesome that one can’t help but wonder if she isn’t the lost daughter of the Carter Family.

Diana Jones had released two finely crafted albums in the 1990s, but it wasn’t until she released “My Remembrance of You” in 2006 that she found her own voice and broke out of the singer-songwriter pack to emerge as a major figure in Americana music. She had discovered a connection, both biological and artistic, to the sounds of old-time Appalachia, unleashing her private muse and creating a record that landed on best-of-the-year lists in the Chicago Tribune and the Nashville Scene.

The three years since that breakthrough have been a whirlwind. Diana has landed the opening slot on high-profile European tours with Richard Thompson and Mary Gauthier and has been the featured invitee at folk festivals in Ireland, England, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. One of her songs, “Henry Russell's Last Words,” has been recorded by Joan Baez, while another, “If I Had a Gun," has been recorded by Gretchen Peters.

Diana’s own versions of those songs can be heard on her new album, “Better Times Will Come," an ambitious effort that consolidates and extends the leap forward of the preceding record. Diana’s fellow singer-songwriters certainly recognize the quality of her new work. Gauthier, Nanci Griffith and Betty Elders add vocals to the project, and the Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor adds fiddle. The acoustic string-band arrangements, anchored by fiddler Alicia Jo Rabins, bassist Paul Kochanski and multi-instrumentalist Duke Levine, are deceptively simple, for their restraint reveals the haunting originality of the melodies and the understated skill of the performances. This reflects the deceptive simplicity of the lyrics, which tell their stories with the hypnotic repetition and plain speech of old mountain song.