Monday, June 1, 2009

New York Times article about Diana Jones

New York Times, May 31, 2009, Music

Folk Songs, It Turns Out, Were in Diana Jones’s Blood


DIANA JONES has been writing songs since she was 11, and she’s been studying people’s faces, as a portrait artist, for nearly as long. But it wasn’t until Ms. Jones, who was adopted as an infant, met her birth mother’s family and heard the folk songs they’d been singing for generations that she discovered her true artistic calling.

It was an unlikely transformation for a woman who was raised on Long Island and trained early on as a classical vocalist. Yet after finding her birth family in East Tennessee in the late 1980s, Ms. Jones discovered that she had an uncanny affinity for Appalachian music. Gradually she began claiming it as her own.

“Better Times Will Come” (Proper Records), her unvarnished new album, marks both the culmination of this process and the arrival of a fresh and distinctive voice. The music on the record is built around the familiar fiddles, mandolins and harmonies of rural Appalachia, and yet there’s no regionalism to speak of in Ms. Jones’s supple, loamy alto. She sings of the hard times, murderous urges and chilling loneliness that haunt the old Anglo-Celtic ballads but, with one exception, sets her plain-spoken narratives resolutely in the present. She approaches the mountain-ballad tradition not as a curiosity or antique but as a renewable vernacular that’s just as capable of speaking to the human condition now as it was 80 years ago.

The rest is at

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