NPR’s Rachel Martin sat down with Iris recently for an interview on Weekend Edition Sunday. Among the highlights:
On Sing the Delta‘s title track
“That song, I wrote at a time when my mom was kind of slipping away. She was 93 and becoming ill, and things weren’t looking good. That song, I think, just came out of a realization I had one day [of] the degree to which she had embodied a whole culture and passed that on to me. And that was that part of the country, the Arkansas Delta. … A lot of what I had stamped on me — musically, Sunday-dinner-wise, religion and everything else — was a direct outgrowth of that.”
Listen to the segment here.
“The title cut from DeMent’s new album is a love song to the South, her drawl caressing the lyrics like a Stax Records piano-triplet groove.”
NPR’s Ken Tucker reviews Sing the Delta on Fresh Air:
“The songs on Sing the Delta only grow more rich, more emotionally complex, the more you hear them. And I plan to keep listening to these songs for a long time.”
“Even though Iris DeMent admits she likes to work at her own pace when it comes to songwriting, 16 years is a long time. The songs themselves are as languorous as a hot summer afternoon, evoking DeMent’s early childhood in Arkansas. But her distinct voice – richer, more expressive and more reflective than ever – pulls you along through the entire album. In an era when we demand instant gratification from everything, DeMent’s new CD says a lot for taking your sweet time.”
Meredith Ochs of NPR’s All Things Considered reviews “Sing The Delta” – listen to the complete review online.
Stuart Munro of The Boston Globe had some kind words for Sing The Delta:
“The songs on “Sing the Delta” took a long time to make their way to Iris DeMent; she released her last album of original material 16 years ago. Her patience has rewarded us with a work of rare, unvarnished grace and power. “Sing the Delta” finds her, still, writing plainspoken, fiercely honest, deeply considered songs about matters of faith and questioning (“The Night I Learned How Not to Pray”), loss and remembering (“Before the Colors Fade”), simple beauty (“Mornin’ Glory”), and, especially, family and the ties family produces to place and the past (“Sing the Delta”). Those explorations are conveyed by a persistent gospel tenor and by her remarkable, thick twang, which quavers, thins, stretches, and soars in a manner that cuts to the emotional heart of the matter. In the album’s most explicitly autobiographical song, DeMent pays tribute to her mother: “When it came to her feelins there wasn’t a back burner on that stove,” she sings; “My mama was always tellin’ her truth.” On “Sing the Delta,” DeMent tells — sings, to our great fortune — her truth.
Iris appeared on NPR’s World Cafe on Tuesday, talking to host David Dye and performing cuts from Sing the Delta — including “If That Ain’t Love,” a song she wrote about her father. Listen online now!
For a limited time, New Yorker magazine is offering an exclusive, complete album stream of Sing The Delta from the Culture Desk section of their website. New Yorker author Ben Greenman writes:
Iris DeMent always sounded like she was from another century, but now she actually is. Her first three records appeared in relatively quick succession between 1992 and 1996, after which she fell mostly silent, releasing only “Lifeline,” a collection of hymns, in 2004. That record earned some notice thanks to the movies—her version of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” played over the closing credits of the Coen brothers’ remake of “True Grit.” Now she has returned with “Sing the Delta,” a strong collection of originals that find her keen eye for detail and distinctive high-lonesome wobble intact. As always, DeMent trains her gaze on family and faith, sometimes both at once (as in the chilling “The Night I Learned How Not To Pray”).
Here’s a 3-part series of interviews with Iris from her recent appearance at the GRAMMY Museum, where she spoke about the creation of her new album Sing the Delta, took audience questions and performed a special set.
Iris treated WFUV listeners to a live preview of songs from Sing The Delta at The Living Room in NYC, and talked with host John Platt about the wait between albums, where the Delta factors into the sound and spirit of her songs, and why she and husband, Greg Brown, keep their songwriting separate. Have a listen!
Engine 145 and Wall Street Journal writer Barry Mazor had some kind words for the upcoming Sing the Delta, calling it “a major event, one of the most moving releases of the decade” after seeing Iris at her recent Country Music Hall of Fame performance. Read the full article here.