Diana Jones
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Diana Jones

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Americana


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"Diana Jones - Financial Times"

[Diana Jones's] songs sound as if they were brought to the Appalachians by the earliest Scots-Irish settlers. The archaic language of 'lust masquerading as love...three blooms to carry but none to flower' felt timeless...At the end, she stepped forward, off the stage and away from the microphone, and stood just in front of the audience singing unaccompanied and unamplified. It encapsulated the evening; at once intimate and courageous.

- Financial Times

"Diana Jones - World Cafe"

Adopted at birth and raised in New York, Americana singer Diana Jones grew up possessing a love for the music of Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton that never quite fit in with her Yankee upbringing. Years later, with the discovery of her birth family in the Tennessee hills, Jones was able to find her true sound, drawing on the music of her native soil.

Her brand of vibrant bluegrass is showcased on her latest album, Better Things to Come, which speaks to the simplicity of mountain life. During this session, Jones explains how the new disc compares to her first two, and shares the origins of the songs "If I Had a Gun" and "Pony." Autobiographical in nature, the collection sounds vivid and rich, and emotive in its honesty. - NPR

"Diana Jones - New York Times"

"Diana Jones writes songs which she sings in such a haunting high lonesome that one can’t help but wonder if she isn’t the lost daughter of the Carter Family." Ann Patchett, New York Times
- New York Times

"Diana Jones - Paste"

"Diana Jones, like Gillian Welch and Iris Dement, has the uncanny ability to write original songs that sound like they originated a couple centuries ago in some backwoods West Virginia holler... she can sit and sing for a spell on my front porch any time." -- Paste

- Paste

"Diana Jones - Philadelphia City Paper"

"She'll break your heart and you'll be glad she did." - Philadelphia City Paper

- Philadelphia City Paper

"Diana Jones - Q Magazine"

"Like Gillian Welch, Jones carries with her a flavour of a bygone era: spare acoustic backings and flinty tales about folks fallen on hard times, delivered in a distinctive voice. . . There's resignation but also hope in their stories, elegant accompaniment from fiddle and mandolin, and buoyancy in her drawling vocals."
- Q Magazine

"Diana Jones- Rock and Reel"

"Jones's craft is displayed to stunning effect as she takes the final written messages of a miner trapped underground to fashion a lyric that serves as a prayer for all humankind." - Rock and Reel

"Diana Jones - Sing Out!"

“The last time I remember being this excited by a collection of songs by a new artist was the fist time I heard the opening lines of Iris Dement’s 1992 release, Infamous Angel.” --Sing Out! - Sing Out!

"Diana Jones - Music Row Magazine"

“In a word, charming. Lovely strummed acoustic instrumentation, a gently swaying melody, a hillbilly feminist lyric and a Southern-drawl vocal. The album is titled My Remembrance of You, and it’s a major, major country-music event.”—Robert K. Oermann, @Music Row Magazine - Music Row Magazine

"Diana Jones - No Depression"

"A resonant vintage folk/bluegrass bender, My Remembrance haunts with it's tales... of the human spirit. Her voice sounds like the smoke from a hand rolled cigarette... It's old-time, perhaps even out-of-time, and it draws you in with it's musky, dusky tone and emotional nuances that glow like dying coals." --Holly Gleason, No Depression

- No Depression


"Better Times Will Come" March/May 2009

"My Remembrance of You" March 2006



DIANA JONES has been writing songs since she was 11, and she’s been studying people’s faces, as a portrait artist, for nearly as long. But it wasn’t until Ms. Jones, who was adopted as an infant, met her birth mother’s family and heard the folk songs they’d been singing for generations that she discovered her true artistic calling.

It was an unlikely transformation for a woman who was raised on Long Island and trained early on as a classical vocalist. Yet after finding her birth family in East Tennessee in the late 1980s, Ms. Jones discovered that she had an uncanny affinity for Appalachian music. Gradually she began claiming it as her own.

“Better Times Will Come” (Proper Records), her unvarnished new album, marks both the culmination of this process and the arrival of a fresh and distinctive voice. The music on the record is built around the familiar fiddles, mandolins and harmonies of rural Appalachia, and yet there’s no regionalism to speak of in Ms. Jones’s supple, loamy alto. She sings of the hard times, murderous urges and chilling loneliness that haunt the old Anglo-Celtic ballads but, with one exception, sets her plain-spoken narratives resolutely in the present. She approaches the mountain-ballad tradition not as a curiosity or antique but as a renewable vernacular that’s just as capable of speaking to the human condition now as it was 80 years ago.

In her record’s title track, for instance, she explores global recession and hostility, while in “Soldier Girl” she fears for the safety of a young enlisted woman. The lyrics don’t mention a specific war, but the urgency in Ms. Jones’s voice leaves little doubt that her protagonist is bound for Afghanistan or Iraq. Many of her songs reveal strong empathy, something she attributes to being adopted.

“I was always looking at faces, always searching for people who looked like me,” Ms. Jones said of her childhood while sipping hot tea on the porch of her home, a converted shotgun shack in the Shelby Hills neighborhood, a blue-collar section of the East Nashville area. “It’s that longing for connection, I think, that’s also there when I write songs.”

This longing is most poignant in “All God’s Children,” a song about orphans. “Shifted from family to other families/some have been hurtful/and some have been kind,” she sings with an equal mix of sadness and resiliency, surrounded by plaintive strains of mandolin, fiddle and banjo.

Ms. Jones, 43, is still mostly unknown outside folk circles in the United States, although her 2006 record, “My Remembrance of You,” received glowing reviews in British magazines like Uncut and Q. Her new CD is the kind of record that might have signaled a popular breakthrough, the emergence of a Joan Baez or a Judy Collins, had it appeared at the height of the folk or singer-songwriter movements of the 1960s and ’70s.

Ms. Baez, who inhabits Appalachian folk songs as well as anybody, said writers of Ms. Jones’s caliber come along only every so often. “There’s some kind of channeling from some other lifetime going on,” Ms. Baez said by phone from her home in Woodside, Calif. “I don’t know the answer to these things, but all I can think of is that it must come from some mysterious part of her soul.”

There’s little mystery but plenty of moral ambiguity in the song “If I Had a Gun,” an updated bit of Southern Gothic in which Ms. Jones imagines herself as a battered woman who’s had enough. “If I had a gun, you’d be dead/one to the heart, one to the head,” she intones in chilling, remorseless monosyllables.

“Diana’s music has a kind of honesty to it that almost makes you want to look away,” said the novelist Ann Patchett, who attended Sarah Lawrence College with Ms. Jones in the ’80s. Her former classmate reminds her a little of Iris Dement, a tradition-steeped singer whose austere records transcend time, place and musical tastes. “Diana’s music feels essentially American without getting into that whole Americana thing,” Ms. Patchett added. “It’s the voice of our dirt.”

Ms. Jones said that throughout her childhood and adolescence she felt an almost mystical attraction to rural Southern music but never understood why. “My brother had Johnny Cash’s live ‘At Folsom Prison’ album, and I stole it from his room,” she recalled. “Whenever I heard that or someone like Emmylou Harris, I’d be like, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful.’ I just didn’t know where to find more of it.”

Apart from the soundtracks to musicals like “Oklahoma!” and “The Sound of Music,” there wasn’t much culture in the home of her adoptive parents when she was young. “I grew up in a house with little music, no art, no books, and my dad kept moving us farther and farther into the country,” she said.

Her father was a chemist, she said, who “wanted to do this farm thing, and when you’re 13 or 14 years old, to be that cut off, where you couldn’t even ride your bike anywhere, was debilitating — alienating, really.”

In the late ’80s, after she’d graduat