Music News

Iris DeMent

By the standards of most contemporary performers, Iris DeMent works largely off the grid. She doesn't even have a MySpace page, and her official website,, is apparently dead. Not that modern technology has ever been her raison d'être. Her first album, 1992's Infamous Angel, was a stunning original folk collection that earned her a record deal with Warner Bros. Unfortunately, critical raves failed to supercharge sales of 1994's My Life, her first album for the imprint, and her next disc, 1996's The Way I Should, was seen as a commercial compromise despite featuring material like "Letter to Mom," about a woman revealing that she'd been raped by her mother's boyfriend at age ten. DeMent's had a considerably lower profile since then, making her last new recording back in 2004. But she needn't worry about contemporaneity. Her best music is timeless — the kind of material that sounds better played live in an intimate room than on an MP3.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts