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Diana Darby | Naked Time (Delmore)
A pomegranate lies dissected on the cover, juice like blood and over a year in Hades worth of seeds spill forth. Listening to this record you have to assume that Diana succumbed just as Persephone did. How else could someone sing "whoever told you life was fair never spent much time sitting in the electric chair" with a laconic huskiness over a gentle pedal steel? Right from the start there is a darkness that even the jangling wind-chimes can't mask. Junebug broods like the oppressively hot Georgian day it portrays. There seems to be something sinister lurking in every corner, where even the Sweet Conversation is "wearing us down to the bone." This is a seriously shadowy album, I mean even 16 Horsepower are known to be lighter. It's like watching an accident, you want to turn away but are drawn in. I'm not trying to put you off, just warn you, I mean I like it, but those of a nervous disposition might want to tread carefully. The playing is first class, subtle and unobtrusive, fitting in with Diana's voice, which is mostly delivered in a slightly sinister hushed croon. This makes it all the more creepy, we're clearly not dealing with a bunch of hicks here. Tales of adult abuse and childhood trauma abound, from the gentle Black Dog â?? "daddy left you as a baby, no one thought it'd make you crazy'"- to the rock-out of She Won't Be Quiet â?? "daddy's little girl has finally come into her own," making you glad you didn't grow up in her home town. The final song gives a nod to what, surely, is a big influence, for Amelia brings laughing Lenny's Suzanne to mind, but even Mr. Cohen would baulk at a line like "the voice that guides your conscience is a psychopathic liar." This is a welcome female addition to the country death genre, but just say "no" if she offers you fruit.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002