Exclusive AUK Mini-Gig: Diana Jones

Here’s another exclusive mini-gig for our readers – a chance to watch an outstanding artist perform from the comfort of home.  We’re delighted to share three songs from Diana Jones, one of the most distinctive voices in country and Americana.  Many thanks to Diana for taking the time to record for us from her New York home just after returning from Nashville where she had performed at the famous Bluebird Cafe.  The three songs you’ll see here are performed as intimate acoustic songs, just Diana and her guitar, which suits the material and her thoughtful lyrics.  The first song, ‘Evangelina’, takes us through a dark tale, full of narrative detail: “Riding in from Wilmington through field and piney wood // At the end of a 3 day journey, his Evangelina stood // Briers lay beneath her feet, a crown of tangles in her hair // And on her face, no trace of the girl he left behind did linger there.”  Her vocal delivery is distinctive and captivating.  Then, we have ‘If I had a Gun’, a song of desperate defiance, of escape.  The gorgeous, bright strum and beautiful vocal melody contrast with the hard, bleak lyrics.  Terrific stuff – this is what the best country and Americana is all about.  Finally, Diana sings ‘Better Times Will Come’ a song of hope that is perhaps even more important now than when it was first recorded.  Diana Jones writes timeless songs and performs with authenticity.

This outstanding mini-gig coincides with the release of ‘Better Times Will Come: Reimagined & Remastered’ on 7th April 2023.  The original 2009 album is an absolute classic, reviewed as such by AUK here.  The new version celebrates the 15th anniversary of the album’s recording, put together with the help of studio engineer Steve Addabbo, who has worked on Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series.  Together, they looked at everything with fresh eyes, from the order of the songs to the mixes, and they also added a previously unreleased song ‘Call Me Daddy’.  The lovely title track featured Diana’s friend the late Nanci Griffith’s on harmony vocals, and the new version features an additional verse that’s been rediscovered.  Throughout April and into May, Diana will be touring the UK and Ireland in support of her classic album’s re-release.  Find details of dates, tickets and the new record here.

This is a real treat for Americana fans.  Check it out.

Diana shares her personal thoughts on the release of ‘Better Times Will Come: Reimagined & Remastered’:

After the release of my first record, ‘My Remembrance of You’, in 2006 I found myself on the road over 200 days a year. Luckily I was writing in between solo tours, opening a Richard Thompson tour, and working with artists like Nick Lowe and Seasick Steve. I recorded my first BBC4 television special and did BBC radio with luminaries Bob Harris and Ricky Ross. When I was ready to record ‘Better Times Will Come’ Joan Baez was already slated to record ‘Henry Russell’s Last Words’ on her record, ‘Day After Tomorrow’.

During the summer of 2008 I took three days off from touring and joined a stellar band of musicians and friends at Signature Sounds Studio in Promfret, CT to record ‘Better Times Will Come’ with Mark Thayer who also co-produced and engineered ‘My Remembrance of You’. Of course I arrived with what my British friends would call “a stinking cold” tanked up on cold meds but by then even the newer songs were reflex after performing them night after night and recording felt like pressing play supported by a stellar line up of musicians including the instinctive and versatile Duke Levine on all manner of strings. We tracked most of the record in three days and then Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier’s harmony vocals and Ketch Secor’s snake handling solo on the song ‘Something Crossed Over’ were recorded in Nashville.

During the pandemic more than one friend/fan suggested re-releasing ‘Better Times Will Come’ and folks had been asking for vinyl for a long time. This winter I revisited the tracks with Grammy Award winning producer and studio engineer Steve Addabbo and together we reimagined the record choosing different mixes of some of the songs and remastered everything. A track I’d forgotten about, ‘Call Me Daddy’, was recorded in the original session but left off the record so Steve and I included it and arranged the songs in a slightly different order.

On the fifteenth anniversary of recording ‘Better Times Will Come’ the songs have gained new meaning for me personally and in terms of the state of a post-Covid world. Bush II was president when I wrote the title track, and all these years later the sentiment of better times is sadly still even more relevant. The war in Iraq is now the war in Ukraine, the US is still recovering from a more disastrous presidency, Nanci Griffith has sadly left us too soon. The song ‘Evangelina’ which The Guardian called me a ‘hillbilly feminist’ for writing has a companion ‘Me Too’ song in ‘Call Me Daddy’. ‘The Day I Die’ now makes me think of the endless Covid losses we endured together while staying apart from each other during the long year or so.

The other part of the story is vinyl. I grew up on it. At fifteen I left home and lived with grown up hippies who had been to Woodstock and had an amazing vinyl collection. And they let me us their stereo. It’s where I was introduced to Odetta and Joan Baez, Janis Ian and Tom Paxton. Many of the artists I would meet and work with later on. So finally having a record out on vinyl means a lot to me. I hope you all enjoy it.

About Andrew Frolish 1434 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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Clint West

What an absolute treat. Wonderful!

Jonathan Aird

Now – that is Americana!

I can’t say just how much I like this – great work Andrew, what an excellent Easter bonus!