Read Kevin Brockmeier on Iris DeMent | Rock Candy

Read Kevin Brockmeier on Iris DeMent



The Oxford American has an exclusive stream up today of a new song by Paragould native Iris DeMent, whose new album, "The Trackless Woods," will be released August 7. To further commemorate the record, the magazine has republished Little Rock author Kevin Brockmeier's essay on DeMent, which originally appeared in their 2007 music issue and which focuses particularly on her album "My Life," which Brockmeier calls "one of exactly two albums I own that I wouldn’t hesitate to call perfect."

The piece, which is sensitive and smart and deeply Arkansan, is also an occasion for, among other things, Brockmeier's thoughts on tone in contemporary pop and reminiscences on musical discovery in mid-90s Little Rock:
In 1994, when the album was released, the big-box record stores had yet to make their way to Little Rock, where I live, and most of the independents had already shut their doors. The Internet was not the vast library of MP3 files it is today—or if it was I had never taken the time to investigate it. Thus, I had never heard so much as a note of Iris’s music before I picked up a copy of "My Life." This was something I did frequently when I was in high school and college, sifting through the racks at Been Around Records or Camelot Music and buying an album I was totally unfamiliar with based on little more than the cover art or the song titles, the record label or the name of the band. By this method I discovered a whole host of mostly forgotten mediocrities—though I’m sure there is somebody out there who loves the Bambi Slam, I don’t—but also a number of performers I still listen to today, like the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience and Billy Bragg.

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