Reviewer Steve Leggett hits it on the nail "Iris DeMent
isn't a pop star, although she probably could have been had she been at
all interested in playing that game. She's a careful, detailed
songwriter with a confessional edge and a good sense of narrative, and
her voice is a marvelous instrument that seems to rise out of the
Jason Ankeny writes about Dement on allmusic.com
her independent label offering Infamous Angel won almost universal acclaim thanks to her pure, evocative vocal style and spare, heartfelt songcraft. Despite a complete lack of support from country radio, the record's word-of-mouth praise earned her a deal with Warner Bros., which reissued Infamous Angel in 1993 as well as its follow-up, 1994's stunning My Life.
Her third LP, 1996's eclectic The Way I Should, marked a dramatic change not only in its more rock-influenced sound but also in its subject matter; where DeMent's prior work was introspective and deeply personal, The Way I Should was fiercely political, tackling topics like sexual abuse, religion, government policy, and Vietnam. In 1999, she collaborated with country man John Prine on his album In Spite of Ourselves. DeMent recorded four duets with Prine that earned her a Grammy nod the following year. Her own recording career was on hiatus for the late '90s and early 2000s, but she returned in 2005 with Lifeline, a collection of gospel hymns. Released in 2012, Sing the Delta, her first album of original songs in 16 years, found her working again within the sparse and emotional quilt of her earlier releases.