Beloved Appalachian singer-songwriter Diana Jones has carved out quite a career for herself over the past decade, amassing critical acclaim in the country/folk arena and a loyal following of avid listeners. Here, in this compilation of triumphant live recordings, Jones proves just why she has compelled audiences around the world since her 2006 breakthrough album My Remembrance of You. Stripped-back instrumentation allows for the singer’s classic Americana tones to shine as she crisply executes nineteen career-spanning tracks and performances.
Not only does this album stretch across Jones’ studio chronology but the performances that can be heard are also sourced from a variety of shows throughout her career. The record opens with the wonderfully dramatic Willow Tree, the performance of which is taken from a 2007 show in the Netherlands, her first in Europe. It’s a testament to Jones’ wide appeal that the album goes on to feature performances from across the UK, Ireland and Europe, as well as a variety of locations in the singer’s home country the USA.
Jones’ voice is, aside from being technically sublime and audibly powerful, one of a woman that evidently lives and breathes country music. Each performance has its own unique charm, even when some tracks fade into obscurity due to their formulaic nature. As a songwriter Jones often seems constrained by the conventions of her genre, but as a vocalist her octave-climbing performances provide technical brilliance and emotional impact for old and new fans to appreciate.
A big draw for those familiar with Jones’ work will be the three previously unreleased numbers that make appearances on this compilation. The first to show up is Prayer For My Brother, an emotive tale-telling track about a ‘barely alive’ young man that stays true to the function of classic country music as a storytelling device. Happiness, the second original on the record, follows shortly after, with Jones joking about its ‘slightly deceptive title’ before tenderly picking her trusty acoustic. It’s pretty basic stuff on an instrumental level, but then that’s not the point. It’s Jones’ poetic eloquence and vocal prowess that drive this song, and many others, forwards.
Jones closes the album as she does her live shows, with the third previously unreleased track My Last Call. It’s a soft, assuring ballad full of the honesty, frankness and warmth we have come to expect from the American songstress. Its most poignant line deftly summarises this entire compilation: ‘This is me.’
Diana Jones Live in Concert is released on 19 February 2016 via Proper Records.