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The Return Of Iris DeMent” Workin’ On A World” And “Goin’ To Sing In Texas” Reviewed

Any year that hits the tarmac with the drop of two entirely new songs from the greatest Americana artist maybe ever, definitely since her late friend John Prine, Iris Dement is reason for celebration

Workin’ On A World – A

Goin’ Down To Sing In Texas – A+

This is the first time since “As It Was” that a new song blew me away, “Goin’ Down To Texas” is up there with “Let The Mystery Be” as a masterpiece by a singer songwriter from Arkansas and simply, and always, underestimated. If you can get past her gorgeous, southern tipped vocals, you will find that if the template is bluegrass it sure doesn’t stop there, “Texas” is immediately one of the top songs of the year

The title track off her upcoming album is a slice of secular theocracy, “Workin’ On A World”is utmost optimism about our ability to keep on going in the face of the post-many things 2023, essentially a lyrical rethink of Dolly Parton’s “In The Meantime”. It is a wonderful song, a true song, and a disappointment because right next to it is “Goin’ Down To Sing In Texas” and that song is a political firebomb of faith in god and love and respect for the women who came before her and during her, and who have changed the music business. The (Dixie) Chicks and the Squad are praised, the billionaires and violence by police against people of color are condemned. And then the punchline: “I’m going down to sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun…”

The clear comparison here is a writer like Bob Dylan, the eight minute song paddles through twelve verses (no chorus) that bangs in like “Subterranean Homesick Blues” as Iris Americana goes through chorus after chorus of, like “Workin'”, personal and political at the same time. Iris is no stranger to taking a stand, though she is a serious Christian the Jesus she loves is the one who threw the money lenders out of the synagogue. After the pandemic, Iris considers the world and how important it is to be on the right side of God. She sees who is doing what to whom and draws a line with a “Go ahead and shoot me if it floats your little boat”. “Texas” is about standing up for what you believe, “Workin'” is about a cliche turned on its back and having its stomach rubbed, she thinks being the best m but that us only possible for her when she stands up for her beliefs and so sings for where the fight for a better world is peaceful and generational.

This is Iris’s first work since 2015 and her best since 2013, it is the magic that is DeMent, a sublime woman, greatly gifted, fearless. If you don’t know Iris you don’t read rocknyc.live. Myself, Helen Bach, and Steve Crawford have written about her often, I’ve done three live reviews myself, and then, and now, if the choice was between Iris and Taylor Swift, I would go with Iris. The most well written songs with comfortable, secular Gospel-y piano and music that rubs against the most honest lyrics you will ever hear. She is incomparable… maybe there is hope for tomorrow…

The lyric to “Goin’ Down To Sing In Texas” below:

I’m going down to sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun
But we will all be so much safer there the biggest lie under the sun
Go ahead and shoot me if it floats your little boat
But I’ll live by my conscience even if that’s all she wrote
I’m going down to sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun

It’s been way too long comin’ but I want to thank The Chicks
They found out what it’s like to be a woman and defy the establishment
Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, any gun in a cowboy hat
Woulda walked away unscathed takin’ a stand like that
Well it’s been way too long coming but I want to thank The Chicks

I’m so glad Jesus drove those moneychangers out of the church
He did not mince his words for fear that their feelings might get hurt
He spoke truth to power, He stood up for the poor
The church today wouldn’t even let him through the door
I’m so glad Jesus drove those moneychangers out of the church

I know a couple of Muslims and they seem like pretty decent folks to me
I’d take anyone of them over that evangelist I’m watchin’ on T.V.
You wanna ban something? I got a plan
Let’s ban hate from every corner of our land
Well I know a couple of Muslims and they seem like decent folks to me

What’s the deal with all these war criminals who get to walk around free
Like that president who lied about WMD
Hundreds of thousands of people are lying in their graves
Celebrities are calling him the sweet new friend they made
What’s the deal with all these war criminals out walkin’ around free

I just wanna say thank you to those brave women in The Squad
Everyday their lives are jeopardized by that hate monger and his mob
But when you care about something that’s bigger than you
Even the fires of hell ain’t too much to go walking through
And I just wanna say thank you to those brave women in The Squad

Ain’t we all just a little bit tired of greedy people gettin’ a free pass
Hoarding obscene amounts of wealth, riding on everybody else’s back
Hey Mr Bezos, I’m talking to you
That flimsy veil you’re wearing is so easy to see through
Aren’t we all just a little bit tired of greedy people gettin’ a free pass

We ought not be condoning, bulldozing Palestinian homes
It’s an open-air prison there, A U.S. sanctioned, dead zone
I have a wealth of compassion for Jewish people and their plight
But I’ve not forgotten two wrongs don’t make a right
And we ought not be condoning, bulldozing Palestinian homes

How many more people of color are we gonna let be gunned down by police
How many more perpetrators are we gonna sit back and watch walk free
You took a knee to stand up for your rights
I want you to know that I’m right there by your side
And how many more people of color we are gonna let be gunned down by police

I’m so proud of all these young people for taking it to the streets
You gotta have conviction if you are going to give your conscience feet
That thug up in the White House will turn up his snotty nose
But these kids are smart, they know the emperor got no clothes
I’m so proud of these young people for taking it to the streets

I know I’m just a pilgrim, I’m only passing through
It’s a choice I’m making tryin’ to be true
I don’t know if there’s a Judgment Day or a master plan
But I wanna be ready if before the Lord I stand
And I know I’m just a pilgrim, only passing through

I’m going down to sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun
But we will all be so much safer there the biggest lie under the sun
Go ahead and shoot me if it floats your little boat
But I’ll live by my conscience even if that’s all she wrote
I’m going down to sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun
I’m going down to sing in Arkansas where anybody can carry a gun
I’m going up to sing in Michigan where anybody can carry a gun
My mama told me, “You can run to the rocks and try to hide your face
But those rocks will cry out, ‘There ain’t no hiding place'”
So I’ll go on down and sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun

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