Iris DeMent My Life
- Released: March 1, 1994
- Label: Warner Bros / WEA
Rolling Stone - 5/13/99, p.60Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."
Rolling Stone - 8/11/94, p.663.5 stars - Good Plus - "...a bittersweet collection of fist-clenched confessions...brooding ballads about regret, resignation and, ultimately, resolution...her abillity to write about intensely personal--and often painful--moments without romanticizing them shows that the wide-eyed farm girl...is now pondering issues that make the difference between healing and merely coping..."
Spin - 12/94, p.76Ranked #3 in Spin's list of the '20 Best Albums Of '94' - "...Iris DeMent's preserved twang and suspended orchestrations unlock gospel and country for rock fans, offering unbreakable gentleness as a modern epiphany about rural values..."
Entertainment Weekly - 4/15/94, p.58"...her outlook is cautious and unwaveringly bleak....MY LIFE is an aural chronicle of a breakdown, of a human being shattering into shards....No average country troubador, DeMent is a backwoods Emily Dickinson...." - Rating: A-
Option - 10/94, pp.98-99"...MY LIFE isn't quite diverse as DeMent's debut, but it's every bit as powerful..."
Musician - 5/94, p.70"...There are moments [on MY LIFE] that are so childishly wide-eyed, so emotionally true that they're almost heartbreaking....DeMent warbles her reminiscences in a voice so crystalline it might've risen from the church pews--or maybe a scratchy old Carter Family record...."
Village Voice (2/28/95) - Ranked #18 in the Village Voice's 1994 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
Sing Out! - 11-12/94-1/95, p.142"...DeMent's singing, with its pure mountain quality, sounds somewhat more confident now than on the first recording. So does her songwriting..."
New York Times (Publisher) - 1/5/95, p.C15Included on Stephen Holden's list of the Top 10 Albums Of '94 - "...Songs of love, loss and emotional survival [that] have the cutting simplicity and directness of classic country."
NME (Magazine) - 4/30/94, p.396 - Good - "...when you get to hear the industrial strength, emotion and resilience...you know that Iris and her big heart will survive the very toughest of times..."
- 1.Sweet Is the Melody
- 2.You've Done Nothing Wrong
- 3.Calling for You
- 4.Childhood Memories
- 5.No Time to Cry
- 6.Troublesome Waters
- 7.Mom and Dad's Waltz
- 8.Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day
- 9.The Shores of Jordan
- 10.My Life
Personnel: Iris DeMent (vocals, acoustic guitar); Richard Bennett (acoustic & electric guitars); "Cowboy" Jack Clement, Mark Howard (acoustic guitar); Al Perkins (dobro); Stuart Duncan (fiddle); John Catchings (cello); Phil Parlapiano (accordion); Charles Cochran, Pete Wasner (piano, keyboards); Roy Huskey Jr. (acoustic bass); Pat McInerney (drums); Kenny Malone (percussion); Joy White (background vocals).
Recorded at The Cowboy Arms Hotel and the Recording Spa, Nashville, Tennessee. Includes liner notes by Iris DeMent.
MY LIFE was nominated for Best Contemporary Folk Album in the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.
Personnel: Iris DeMent (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar); Richard Bennett (guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12-string guitar); Jack Clement, Mark Howard (guitar, acoustic guitar); Al Perkins (dobro); Stuart Duncan (mandolin, fiddle, flute); John Catchings (cello); Phil Parlapiano (accordion); Pete Wasner, Charles Cochran (piano, keyboards); Roy M. "Junior" Husky (upright bass); Pat McIrney, Pat McInerney (drums); Kenny Malone (percussion); Linda Williams, Robin Williams (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Richard Adler .
Liner Note Author: Iris DeMent.
Recording information: Cowboy Arms Hotel & Recording Spa, Nashville, TN; The Cowboy Arms Hotel & Recordi.
Photographers: Kelley McCall; Victor Bracke.
From the opening notes of "Sweet Is The Melody," the listener is transported by Iris DeMent's simple dignity and grace. Listening to MY LIFE is like thumbing through an old sepia-toned photo album or riding the buckboards on your way home from a little rural church. The high lonesome timbre of Iris DeMent's soprano, the yodeling cry that colors her vocal ornaments, the crystalline grace of her acoustic guitar, all these bespeak a much simpler, more innocent time.
And today, when rhinestone cowboys and Arbitron ratings have eclipsed the folk lineage of country music, MY LIFE is a glorious anomaly, a timeless collection of country ballads that don't seek to recapture the past so much as to reconcile the old ways to new feelings. Which is part of what makes her nostalgic interpretations of the gospel tune "Troublesome Waters" and Lefty Frizzell's "Mom & Dad's Waltz" so poignant...yet strangely contemporary.
DeMent extols the simple pleasures of her youth on "Childhood Memories," then laments her lost childhood on "No Time To Cry," where she relates the particulars of her father's funeral and uses it as an extended metaphor for adult rites of passage. On "Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day" she relates the everyday particulars of marriage and family in a matter-of-fact litany of faded dreams, disenchantment, and stoic resignation.
In closing she likens her life to "A passing September that no one will recall," then remembers that "I gave joy to my mother/I made my lover smile/And I can give comfort to my friends when they're hurting..." It's a beautiful moment, a simple victory over despair, and a powerful coda to one of the most heartfelt country albums of 1994.
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