Reclusive and anything but prolific, Iris Dement still ranks among the most remarkable singer-songwriters of her generation. Her splendid, timeless voice draws on some distinct combination of country, folk, and gospel. It's brittle yet resilient, conveying rare emotional qualities that embrace both naiveté and world-weariness in equal measures, adding up to something endearingly unique. Her writing evokes similar strains, displaying particular intimacy in her early work and later dealing with broader social and political issues. But there have only been four Dement albums in 17 years. The last was 2005's Lifeline, offering only one original among a collection of country-gospel tunes from her childhood. She'll perform solo at this rare appearance. Opening will be the Pines, the fine duo of Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt, who play an evocative blend of country, folk, and blues, and who originally hail from the same Iowa territory as Dement's husband, Greg Brown. All ages.
Fri., June 12, 7 p.m., 2009