Exposé Online banner

Jane Siberry — Jane Siberry
(East Side Digital SD 80512, 1981/1991, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-08-02

Jane Siberry Cover art

Many fans of art-rock will be familiar with Jane Siberry’s work on a series of excellent albums from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, starting with No Borders Here and going through When I Was a Boy. She presented a quirky take on popular song, full of odd stories about grouper fish, dancing classes, and other unconventional subjects (at least in the context of song lyrics). Many different types of musical backing were presented, from simple guitar or piano to elaborate band arrangements, all backing her distinctive voice. She often sounds nerdy and vulnerable, squeezing too many words into unpredictable melodies; she has a jazzy vibrato a bit like Joni Mitchell’s, and often presents elaborate arrangements for multiple layers of overdubbed backing parts. When it works, it is glorious, though some listeners may find it a bit too precious or even cutesy at times. Given the significance of her later work, it’s interesting to check out her debut album from 1981. (She reached back even farther back on Teenager, but that didn’t come out until much later.) Jane Siberry is in many ways more conventional than its follow-up, No Borders Here, but is still far from stock singer-songwriter material. The first track is “Marco Polo,” a song presented from the imagined viewpoint of the famed traveling trader’s girlfriend (“Marco, I’m shallow but I don’t want you to think that you’re buying my love with these frivolous things; but I’m dying for dresses and I’ve run out of perfume and I’m pining for a wine that is halfway decent”) — which of course can be taken as a metaphor for other kinds of relationships. Her flighty harmony parts are fully formed, and her occasional talk-sung verses are well developed at this point. While the album doesn’t contain any art-rock epics to change the world, it’s consistently entertaining and intelligent, a very original take on the style Joni Mitchell gave us on Blue or For the Roses.


Filed under: Reissues, 1991 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Jane Siberry / Issa

Latest news

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Zao - Z=7L – For those not familiar with Zao, they were the first true Magma spin-off band, formed by reedsman Yochk'o Seffer and pianist Francois "Faton" Cahen, at a time when their creative role within that band...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues