Diana Jones - Museum of Appalachia Recordings (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
NASHVILLE songwriter Diana Jones has drawn on the old-time Appalachia music to inform the sound of her latest album, Museum of Appalachia Recordings.
The result features 11 original songs recorded live with two musicians and a crackling fireplace in the background. And it harkens back to a day when music was played and recorded live without the need for electronic embellishment.
It lends the album a distinct sound as well as an immediacy, almost as though you may have walked into the recording session by accident.
To get some idea of the thinking behind the creation, then here’s some of what Jones had to say about the recording process: “The fire at the Peter’s cabin was lit in the morning of December 3, 2012, as sound engineer Joe DeJarenette set up his equipment and the mikes were set in place.
“Matt Combs, Shad Cobb and I took our seats in a circle facing each other and began to play the first song in my black and white marble composition book. Fiddles, mandolins, guitars, banjos and a mandola were strewn across the room.
“We travelled from song to song and trusted that the feeling was there, along with the crackling sound of the wood burning in the fireplace. After two days of playing these special songs it was hard to imagine all that had happened as the last of the fire died down.”
In truth, it’s a lovely image. And it goes someway towards explaining why the album offers such a pleasant listen. The sense of enjoyment that must have taken place while recording is infectious.
There are songs that are strikingly intimate and even sad, such as the stripped back Gold Mine (which relies mostly on Jones’ vocals and, belatedly, a beautifully constructed fiddle solo), or the moderately paced ode to old-school workmen that is Song For A Worker (complete with fantastic chorus and terrific fiddle and banjo combination).
But there are also those that conjure a sense of revellry or toe-tapping energy. Love O Love is a firm favourite for the way in which it waltzes its way along in joyful manner, Satan is a dark-themed delight with plenty of religious imagery (Jones’ vocals assume a really ragged quality that’s complimented by the slick banjo licks) and O Sinner (which opens the album) finds plenty to admire in its storytelling prowess and busy banjo and fiddle accompaniment.
The Other Side, meanwhile, rounds things off in nicely a capella fashion with a boy-girl vocal back and forth that is a delight. You may want to curl up and fall asleep, contentedly, after hearing it.
This is a genuinely satisfying nostalgia trip.
Download picks: Love O Love, Gold Mine, Satan, The Other Side