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

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Realm - The Path – Realm is not a new band: well over ten years ago a nearly identical lineup produced an almost unlistenable (due to the muddy mix and horrible vocal arrangements) keyboard album under the name System,...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues