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Diana Jones - Museum Of Appalachia Recordings

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 29 / 7 / 2013

Diana Jones - Museum Of Appalachia Recordings
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Remarkable and authentic-sounding collection of old-time mountain music, recorded over two days in a wood cabin at the Museum Of Appalachia in Tennessee, on fourth album from acclaimed Nashville-based singer-songwriter Diana Jones

Old-time mountain music, such as the eleven songs on ‘Museum of Appalachia Recordings’, surely can’t be made in 2013. After all this is music that originated as far back as 1920 and, as the Carter Family had it pretty well-covered anyway, why would anyone even try to capture the feeling and sound of those recordings today? No doubt some talented studio technician could try and even maybe be fairly successful, but surely it would lack the spontaneity and the raw beauty of those original recordings. Gillian Welch, of course, has done much to keep this genre alive and has successfully introduced a new generation to this centuries old music. While Welch often embellishes her music with other influences, Diana Jones, with her fourth album, really has gone back to basics and produced a stunning album of authentic Appalachian recordings that sound so steeped in that tradition that it is difficult to believe that the songs were only recorded last year. On 3rd December 2012 Joe DeJarnette set up microphones and his recording equipment in the Peters Homestead Cabin at the Museum Of Appalachia in Clinton, Tennessee. With just one electrical outlet and a lone light bulb the wood cabin was transformed, with the minimum of fuss, into a makeshift recording studio for the next two days. The fireplace that dominated the cabin was soon filling the small space with warmth which obviously inspired Jones along with fellow musicians Matt Combs and Shad Cobb to turn the eleven original songs that Jones had written, while touring over the past few years, into such authentic sounding Appalachian recordings that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the songs originated from the thirties. Jones obviously understood that the walls of this cabin held so much music, that the sounds made there throughout the years were still magically and silently floating around that small space just waiting to be captured again and that this was the time and place to allow the songs she had written over the years to finally come alive at last. With DeJarnette adding bass to the traditional instruments such as mandolin, banjo, fiddle and guitars, the musicians gathered in a circle and started playing the songs. It’s not often that the ambience created during a recording is captured so effortlessly and completely as it is on this album. Jones and her small band capture the sound of that long passed era so perfectly that it is hard to accept that Jones actually wrote these songs fairly recently. One thing that does set the songs on ‘Museum of Appalachia Recordings’ apart from many of the original era is Jones’ vocals. It is a full sound, pure and believable, quite unlike any other female singer from this genre. The fact that all of these songs were recorded live in just a two-day period makes those vocals even more impressive. It is a remarkable sound that the four musicians create. Jones is a exceptional storyteller. Her songs may well deal with the centuries old themes of loss, longing, death and misfortune, but Jones is such an accomplished lyricist the songs still sound fresh today, shorn of any studio trickery and with minimal musical backing her stories really have the perfect setting to shine. Jones is without a doubt a talented singer and songwriter, but what is remarkable about this album is the way it was recorded and the sound that was produced by just a handful of musicians in the most basic of settings. But then surely that’s the whole point of this album; Jones has produced an authentic sounding album of old-time mountain music by taking it back to its roots and one gets the feeling that’s exactly what she was aiming for.

Track Listing:-
1 O Sinner
2 Drunkard's Daughter
3 Song for a Worker
4 Sparrow
5 Ohio
6 Love O Love
7 Orphan's Home
8 Goldmine
9 Satan
10 Tennessee
11 The Other Side

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