This Album Changed My Life: Katie Brianna on 'Infamous Angel' by Iris DeMent

22 April 2021 | 1:36 pm | Mallory Arbour

To get to know 2007 golden guitar nominee Katie Brianna a little better, we asked her to tell us about an album that has changed her life.

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Golden Guitar nominee, Katie Brianna released her third album This Way or Some Other back in March, featuring her latest single Wedding Ring, with Caitlin Harnett on backing vocals. Katie’s two previous albums ticked all the boxes of great Australian alternative country, but, this time around, the idea was to break the shackles of any genres of preconceived ideas of what people expect to hear from her. This Way or Some Other was recorded mostly live in the studio with minimal rehearsal so that the songs would remain fresh. The result is one of complete purity that not only showcases Katie’s astonishing voice but also her gift for songwriting and the written word.

To get to know Katie a little better, we asked her to tell us about an album that has changed her life.

The year was 2005. I was laying in the back of my parents’ campervan. I was on a road trip holiday with them and I think we were staying by the river somewhere ... maybe it was Grafton? I don’t know, I’m not good with maps and memories. I put Iris DeMent’s Infamous Angel into my disc-man for the first time, and all of a sudden, I saw music in new colours.

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Those opening lines of Let The Mystery Be: ‘Everybody is a wonderin’ what and where they all came from...’ drew me in deep, and her voice sang out like a perfectly flawed diamond. The instrumentation on this album is stripped back but also heavily bluegrass-influenced and does nothing to detract from DeMent’s witty, pure, and sometimes naive lyrics. You listen to her words and you know she’s seen so much of the world and already felt so much of its heartbreak.

I think it was Bill Chambers who told me I needed to listen to Iris, and this album specifically. He told me I reminded him a little bit of her and that I would love her – which was a tremendous understatement. Have you ever heard anything like that voice? It was so purely country but, at the same time, transcended any labels. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for me when it came to music.

Fast forward to quite a few years and I’m stalking her on her Australian tour and crying on her shoulder backstage – that actually happened and I’m not embarrassed about it. This album is one of those albums that is going to stick with me forever and continually influence every word I write, and every note I sing.

For more of our This Album Changed My Life series, go here.
And keep up to date with Katie Brianna on her Facebook page here.

Image: Supplied