Diana Jones

Live Review | The Greystones, Sheffield | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Appearing in Sheffield for the very first time, Nashville-based Diana Jones played the third show of her current UK tour in the backroom of the Greystones tonight, before a healthily-sized audience, all eager to hear some of the new songs from her recently released High Atmosphere album.  Trying out her newly acquired 1944 Gibson, notable for the absence of a truss rod due to the shortage of metal during the war effort at the time of manufacture, Diana Jones didn’t disappoint, effortlessly performing such songs as “I Don’t Know”, “Drug for This” and the brooding “I Told the Man” in a single ninety-minute set.  The New York-raised singer-songwriter was relaxed and composed as she re-visited some earlier songs that have since brought her to wider attention, such as the sardonic “If I Had a Gun”, recently covered by Gretchen Peters and the poetic “Henry Russell’s Last Words” recorded by Joan Baez for her Steve Earle produced Day After Tomorrow album.  With an occasional guitar change, swapping the new Gibson for the tiny four-string tenor, which provides that all important rhythmic thump, Diana performed the upbeat mountain song “Poverty”.  For the introduction to the ‘pre-murder’ ballad Sister, Diana revealed that she watches too much television whilst on tour, with an almost congratulatory acknowledgement that the UK has much more ‘informational and educational’ TV, whilst in the States, there’s always “America’s Most Wanted”, which provided the inspiration for the song about Diana’s younger sister.  Diana also confessed during the set that not only is she in high demand as a wedding singer but also as a funeral singer as well, which she eloquently reveals in the song “Funeral Singer”, again from the new album, dedicated to her late cousin Harold Lesher, as is the entire album.  With a set that also featured the one unaccompanied song, the traditional-styled “Cold Grey Ground”, together with one or two older songs such as “Better Times Will Come”, “Willow Tree” and the gorgeous “Cracked and Broken”, Diana returned to the stage for a final encore of “Lover”, satisfied that with a few songs from each of her previous two records My Remembrances of You and Better Times Will Come, together with a generous helping of songs from High Atmosphere and even one newly written song, Diana completed a pretty faultless perfomance.  Supporting the show tonight was Canadian singer-songwriter Gabriel Minnikin who teamed up with the Stoke on Trent-based pedal steel player Chris Hillman (no relation), who provided a sweet counterpoint to Gabriel’s deep and dulcet tones.  Nova Scotia-raised Minnikin performed a handful of self-penned songs from each of his two released albums Hard Feelings (2004) and Wandering Midnight (2006) such as “Where’s My Tea”, “Blackwater Sky” and “Memory Man”, together with a cover of John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves”.  Another highly satisfying night at The Greystones.