8/15: Iris DeMent at the Beachland

Country music in the early ’90s was a domain filled with folks like Garth, Billy Ray and Wynonna. So when Iris DeMent released her 1992 debut, Infamous Angel, it was a refreshing breath of clean country air. Born in Arkansas and raised in a highly religious family, DeMent makes music that’s not bound by time or place. Her songs project a simple rural purity, but her words and singing hold complex emotions. It’s the type of tradition-rooted country music that, a few years later, Gillian Welch parlayed into NPR acclaim. Not that DeMent’s work has been overlooked. 10,000 Maniacs and Susan Tedeschi covered her songs, and her sublime second album, My Life, was nominated for a Grammy. However, after her third release, 1996’s The Way I Should, DeMent slipped out of sight just as the alt-country scene was getting some mainstream attention. Since then, she’s put out only one CD, 2004’s Lifeline, a set of old church and gospel tunes. DeMent, who married veteran folksinger Greg Brown in 2002, doesn’t tour often, so it’s a treat when she come to town. While she’s long overdue for some new music, there’s no sign that her summer visit signals that anything is in the works. It’s probably best just to quote one of her songs and “let the mystery be.” Charlie Mosbrook opens at 8 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $26 advance, $28 at the door. — Michael Berick