Live in Concert
Proper Records/Goldmine Records
A Rather Lovely Career Retrospective
Not normally a fan of Traditional Folk Music in any of its formats; I came to Diana Jones music quite late; and only when I reviewed her previous album Museum of Appalachia Recordings in 2013.
Proving you don’t have to spend six months multi-tracking in an expensive recording studio; Diana Jones has proved yet again that there is no substitute for talent; in this case her distinctive voice and a songwriting talent; unsurpassed in her field.
Although born and bred in suburban New York Ms. Jones always had a fascination with the Folk music of her forefathers in the Smoky Mountains; and that love comes through in every song in this collection.
While it’s not clear from the review copy of the album that I have; nor the accompanying Press Release is from one concert (I somehow doubt it; judging by the between song editing); the simplicity of the songs; one voice and two guitars highlights the quality and complexity of her writing.
The first song, Willow Tree is as traditional as Folk Music gets; but Diana Jones somehow makes it sound fresh and fascinating in equal measures; which is quite a challenge.
Taking songs from all four of her studio albums Diana straddles the boundary between Traditional American Folk Music and what we now know as Rootsy-Americana with ease.
I particularly like the rolling guitar into to I Told The Man; and later on Rain and Cold Beau Stapleton’s mandolin playing is exquisite as he accompanies Diana on a truly passionate song.
Fan favourites like Lay Me Down, the atmospheric The Day I Die (which is one of the few songs to get an introduction) and Cold Grey Ground all get an airing here; alongside a couple of my own favourites.
Evangelina is another song to benefit from some scintillating mandolin playing; but the song itself sounds like it should come from a John Ford Western. I wasn’t previously aware of Henry Russell’s Last Words; but had to take a deep breath the first time I heard it. I don’t really know why but it has qualities of early Bob Dylan’s writing to it. You know when he was a Folk-singer? Perhaps it’s just me.
While I’ve always been a sucker for a coal mining song; so Appalachia, about how strip mining is blighting the beautiful countryside; will always appeal, my actual highlight; is another song I hadn’t heard before; Better Days Will Come, which evokes memories of my Methodist and Socialist upbringing in the coal mining community of Co. Durham. Sadly the sentiment is still relevant today in 2016.
Putting 19 well loved songs together in an uncomplicated live setting just might be a Master-stroke, and bring Diana Jones back catalogue to the attention of a whole new generation of fans. Here’s hoping.
Released 19th February 2016