Because of its vintage sensibility and topical material, it’s reasonable to think singer/songwriter Diana Jones tailored her tremendous new CD Better Times Will Come (Proper) to be some type of contemporary statement on current affairs.
But Jones, who’ll perform tunes from the new release Thursday night at a CD release party at the Station Inn, says that there’s a far more personal than political reason for the disc’s tone and direction.
“I was really just communicating a feeling about things in my own life,” Jones said. “I remember writing ‘Better Times Will Come’ thinking that there were some good things about to happen, and then things got a bit worse. So I wrote another song and then a few more and eventually there was a theme, but it really wasn’t my goal to do anything like a statement other than just to reflect the things I was thinking about and feeling at the time.”
But the new CD continues the momentum that Jones generated with her 2006 disc My Remembrance of You and Radio Soul from 2007. The sound, which featured a poignant, striking voice folded into simple, yet attractive arrangements with beautiful acoustic backdrops and frequently heartfelt messages and stories, is both instantly identifiable and also a mix of the old and the new.
Indeed Jones dedicated My Remembrance of You to her late grandfather Lee Maranville, who once played in a Knoxville band with Chet Atkins and the person she calls “an influence in everything in my life.”
“My grandfather is the person who really taught me how to use my voice, and so many other things. I’ve never been the type of person who really answers easily the whole question about influences, but there’s no question that he’s been my major influence. He was the person who really helped me hear all types of old mountain music, and explained how to utilize the melodies but also find your own voice.”
She’s getting more attention for her songwriting prowess, particularly after Joan Baez did a version of her composition “Henry’s Russell’s Last Words” on her Grammy-nominated CD Day After Tomorrow.
“I was riding down the highway and heard her singing that tune and my hands started shaking on the wheel,” Jones recalled, “I had to pull off the road and just sit there and listen to it. When someone that you’ve admired all your life and whose music you love thinks enough of something you wrote to record it, that’s an awesome thing.”
She’s also been sharing the stage with many of the big names in folk, country and bluegrass music, something else that’s resulted in some great memories.
“Odette was so warm and sharing,” Jones remembers. “I was really young and just starting out and she was a legend, but she was very giving and supportive, as well as offering me plenty of good advice. I remember singing with Nanci Griffith and thinking, here’s someone whose voice has been coming out of speakers next to me forever and now she’s right here beside me singing. That was another of those great moments.”
While her music remains the major thing in her life, one future project that she’d like to do involves writing a memoir. Jones was adopted as an infant and raised in New York, but eventually reunited with her birth family in Maryville, Tenn., after graduating from college.
“Getting to know my grandfather and finding my family were incredibly important events in my life, something that one day I really want to write about,” Jones concluded. “My grandfather was such a great man, and the whole experience is still something that I’m dealing with to this day.”
What: CD release party for Diana Jones’ Better Times Will Come
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Station Inn, 402 12th Ave. S.,
Info: 255-3307, stationinn.com