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The first record 42-year-old Iris DeMent remembers hearing was Loretta Lynn singing gospel. Now DeMent, the Arkansas-born youngest of 14 children, is at work on her own gospel CD. Her last release, 1996’s The Way I Should, contained the lyric “We got preachers dealin’ in politics and diamond mines/And their speech is growing increasingly unkind,” so don’t expect this effort to fit any Christian stereotypes. DeMent first received attention for her early-’90s works, which showcased her high girlish drawl on originals and covers by the likes of Maybelle Carter and Lefty Frizzell. Though she occasionally strains too hard, DeMent—who’s also a fan of Woody Guthrie and Western swing—always remains intriguing. DeMent plays with Eliza Gilkyson at 7:30 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $25. (703) 549-7500. (Steve Kiviat)