Iris DeMent finally has a new album out. Her last album was eight years ago, and since she didn't release her first album until she was in her 30s, it's not like we have a lot of Iris to fall back on. Since that last album, she's appeared on a lot of other people's work, but apparently she had a serious case of writer's block, which on the evidence of the new album hasn't been cured ... there's only one new original amongst Lifeline's 13 songs.
Here's the catch: Lifeline is a gospel album. I don't have the liner notes in front of me ... I'm waiting for my CD to arrive and have only listened via Rhapsody ... but word is she explains that while her own ideas about religion don't exactly match with the songs she's singing, these are songs from her childhood that work like comfort food. (If I've got it wrong, I'll post again when the CD actually arrives.) Considering I was listening to Mitch Miller and His Gang the other day, I don't suppose I have room to talk when it comes to comfort music.
Since I've spent a lot of time the last week or so railing against the moronic nature of religious thought, I suppose this falls under Serves Steven Right: a favorite artist who's been MIA for a long time pokes her head out, only to sing about god.
Nonetheless, there are very few people I'd rather hear singing such songs than Iris DeMent, maybe Al Green or Alison Krauss. Her voice hasn't changed ... it's still as honest as you could ever want. On first listen, I can't say that Lifeline will ever be as popular in my house as My Life from 1993, but it really feels good to hear her voice again ... on that level, nothing could be more timely or more welcome.