“Singin’ is prayin’,” says Iris DeMent, quoting her late mother - “who sang all the time”. Despite long-ago abjuring her childhood Pentecostal faith, the country-folk songstress continues, “That’s what it feels like for me. We’re always linked to things bigger than ourselves, but when I’m singing is when I most know that.” Such devotional yet questing/questioning qualities have been central to DeMent’s unique artistry ever since her 1992 debut album, Infamous Angel, saw her championed by the likes of John Prine and Merle Haggard. Despite her subsequently sparse recorded output, she remains cherished as an extraordinarily affecting live performer.
The daughter of celebrated Midwestern folk-singer Greg Brown (and DeMent’s stepdaughter), Pieta Brown released her seventh studio album, Freeway, in 2019. Blending otherworldly atmospheres with slow-burn intensity and compelling lyrical candour; Americana roots with shades of jazz, blues and hip-hop, it cemented her growing reputation as a highly distinctive vocal and songwriting talent.