Set for a February release, country singer-songwriter’s Workin’ on a World was inspired by historical figures who changed the course of history
In February, Iris DeMent will release Workin’ on a World, an album of love letters to the promise of a better future and to historical heroes like John Lewis, Jesus Christ, Mahalia Jackson. The project, set to arrive Feb. 24, came out of the uniquely dark past half-dozen years of American history.
“I kept hearing a lot of talk about the arc of history that Dr. King so famously said bends towards justice,” DeMent said in a statement. “I was having my doubts. But, then it dawned on me, he never said the arc would magically bend itself. Songs, over the course of history, have proven to be pretty good arc benders.”
DeMent has previously teased some of the album’s materials, releasing one of its songs, the epic eight-minute missive “Going Down to Sing in Texas,” in the fall of 2020.
On the bouncy title track, also out on Tuesday, DeMent makes the album’s mission statement plain: “I don’t have all the answers/To the troubles of the day,” she sings, “But neither did all our ancestors/And they persevered anyway.”
Workin’ on a World is the 62 year-old songwriter and John Prine collaborator’s first release of any kind in eight years, as well as her first of original material since Sing the Delta, her gorgeous 2012 portrait of Southern roots. That project had been her only release of newly penned songs since the mid Nineties.
After following up her 1992 debut Infamous Angel (recently named one of Rolling Stone’s greatest country albums of all time) with 1994’s My Life and 1996’s The Way I Should, DeMent released a collection of old spirituals in 2004 and a collection of Russian poems set to music with her most recent release, 2015’s The Trackless Woods.