5,7,5 – 365
15th September 2015
A haiku and a diary entry, every day for a year.
There’s an authenticity and an honesty to Iris Dement’s writing and singing that never fails to move me, more often than not to very real tears. Not simply that stark honesty that lays everything bare but something that comes from the heart. I love her songs, however for me this new album stands head and shoulders above anything of hers that I have listened to before. A collection of the work of Russian modernist poet, Anna Akhmatova that Iris has set to music, apparently after coming across the poems by chance.
Recorded in her home with musical friends and family, each song stands as a tribute to both singer and poet. The very real sorrow and hardship depicted in Akhmatova’s words is perfectly matched by Iris’s voice and the moving music here. This is powerful stuff, there is more than one song on the album that has me pausing for a few minutes afterwards, unable to move on to the next. Iris’s affinity with Akhmatova, and the way in which the music and lyrics fit together so perfectly, is all the more astounding for the two artists having been separated in space and time.
I wasn’t familiar with the work of Akhmatova, who lived through the the Siege of Leningrad and Stalin’s purges. Despite the persecution of her family and friends, rather than flee into exile, she chose to remain in Russia, the country she dearly loved. Akhmatova died in Moscow in 1966.
With that context, Akhmatova’s words have even more resonance but even without it, they speak clearly of the pain of loss and the hope for something better. Iris’s lovely and very real voice makes those words strike home like a well aimed arrow to the heart. The Trackless Wood is a very special album indeed.
Continents, time, even death
Anna given voice