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

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Gnomus - II – This is the second release of spontaneous compositions from this Finnish trio. Drums, keyboards and guitar wander into the outer reaches of deep space for improvisations that never really approach...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues