Released May 9th, 2000
“Pretty music to commit suicide by” is how one fan described the debut album of Diana Darby. Influenced by equal parts Steve Earle and Patti Smith, Diana takes her listeners on a rickety carnival ride in the dark and leaves them there. Veteran players Mark Spencer (Blood Oranges, Lisa Loeb, Laura Cantrell) and Will Rigby (The D.B.’s, Steve Earle) fleshed out the album, throwing Diana squarely into the Americana spotlight and garnering her a feature on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
“Forget Gillian Welch / Lucinda Williams, when it comes to poetry as song this young woman out of Houston is tapping into the duende. A surface shimmer of punk/pop and brooding English folk laps at the feet of the ghost of Sandy Denny as she skirts the lake of the blues. The subject matter skims across abuse and sorrow with a voice that literally feels as if the sky is crying. The hands rowing the boat are experienced. Will Rigby of the DB's, Mark Spencer of the Blood Oranges, Mark Bosquist etc. The backings are as precise and evocative as copper etchings behind the fragile figure in a print dress. Like listening to trees fade and wither. The overall feel is mid seventies in a way and I kept thinking of Planet Waves. Standout tracks are the Appalachian ballad 'Malcolm's Song', 'Sarah' and the almost Blondie meets Patti Smith 'She won't be quiet no more' but really it's a near faultless first recording. Diana Darby is now resident in Nashville and is teaching poetry. Looks like the worlds of literature and song may be the richer for that. A black dog turned up on her doorstep and never left... 'Blackdog' pays tribute in a mellow country form to both Nick Drake and Jesse Winchester's songs of that title but leaves us with the sound of pure Darby. Closer 'Amelia' is a Leonard Cohen tune made completely her own.” - Shaun Belcher, Bucketful of Brains, #59
“Darby has her precedents...Nick Drake and Beth Orton come to mind...And, like any good rock artist, she kills them off with conviction. In the process she makes nonsense of labels like "folk," "alt-country" and "pop." -Roy Kasten, Riverfront Times
“A pomegranate lies dissected on the cover, juice like blood and over a year in Hades worth of seeds spill forth. Listening to this record you have to assume that Diana succumbed just as Persephone did. How else could someone sing "whoever told you life was fair never spent much time sitting in the electric chair" with a laconic huskiness over a gentle pedal steel? -Laurence Arnold, Comes With A Smile
“I’ve always been a writer...poems, song lyrics, plays, screenplays. I got an M.F.A. from U.S.C. in writing & directing. I love writing dialogue. To me, writing is all about rhythm it’s something you hear. I grew up bantering with my father. we did an Abbott & Costello kind of thing and I think it really trained my ear for comedy. I did some writing for television. I ended up working for Warner Bros. for Full House. But it was a total mismatch. I’m dark and disturbed and they’re....well, it’s like putting Gary Shandling on the spinning tea cup ride at Disneyland and asking him not to throw up.
I moved to Nashville and began co-writing with alot of established writers that most publishers called “left of center” whatever that means. I wrote the words they wrote the music but after a while I wanted to write songs that expressed who I was. I kept feeling this urge to get naked....like I wanted to reveal who I was more and more but that’s hard to do when you’re sitting next to a big man in a hat. So I started locking myself away and letting my demons talk.
I had all these feelings about myself, the relationship I was in and my mother. I guess I’ve been a little psychotic the last three years (well maybe longer than that), but I’ve finally decided it’s o.k. to let it out. I mean it’s got to go somewhere.
I like to write from the emotion not about the emotion and I think it’s important to do it with some level of control. As my poetry teacher Jack Grapes said, “Don’t just bleed, bleed into the cup.”
Diana Darby Vocals, acoustic guitar
Mark Spencer Electric, Acoustic, National, lap steel, Bass, Organ, Synth, Egg, Wind chimes, Tambourine
Will Rigby Drums
David Henry Cello
Ned Henry Electric guitar on Ragdoll
Sharon Janis Upright Bass on Junebug
D. Clinton Thompson Acoustic and Electric Guitar on Ragdoll
Fred Shehadi Acoustic Guitar on Amelia
Produced by Diana Darby & Mark Linn