Iris DeMent THE TRACKLESS WOODS

Flari Ella Records

The poetic works of Anna Akhmatova set to music; Iris at her best A chance reading led Iris to stumbling across the poetry of persecuted Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966) who had endured 30 years under Stalin’s rule and was accused of having a corrupting influence on Soviet youth. She was declared an enemy of the state in 1946 and lived out her years relying on friends to prevent her

falling into abject poverty. Using translations by Babette Deutsch and Lyn Coffin, Iris embarked upon the daunting project of setting the translated works to music. Four years later and Iris was recording the completed work in her living room under the watchful eye of Paul Dugre and producer Richard Bennett.

Simple arrangements with Iris and piano have been sympathetically embellished by Jon Graboff (pedal steel, mandolin), Dave Jaques (acoustic bass), Bryan Owings (percussion) and friend Leo Kottke (12 string guitar) with Richard Bennett helping on gut string and electric guitar. The result is a thing of melodic beauty. The listener cannot fail to be moved by the words which reflect the many phases of the poet’s difficult life. Iris’ vocals can be very much an acquired taste and the uninitiated may at times have a little difficulty deciphering her accent. It’s recommended therefore that anyone not familiar with her music follows the lyrics on the extremely informative insert. The album closes with a recording of the poet reciting ‘The Muse,’ in Russian of course -translation included. This is a moving tribute to an amazing lady who somehow survived the darkest days of the Soviet Union. John Roffey

www.irisdement.com

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