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Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Music Review: Jane Siberry (1988)

My review of Jane Siberry's The Waking album from 1988, never before published:

IS SHE NEW AGE, NEW FOLK, OR A FRUSTRATED OPERA STAR?  
Silberry's Major Label Debut Leaves us Wondering

Jane Siberry:  The Waking  (Reprise 1988)

Canadian singer Jane Siberry is sometimes called a New Age vocalist, which may be a contradiction since most New Age music is instrumental.  Her major label debut, The Waking, demonstrates just how contradictory her musical style can be.  She's also been compared to Suzanne Vega, but the only resemblance we can hear is how both favor a poetic way with lyrics.  Vega's New Folk style conjures up New York street beats, while Siberry is more formal, applying a scholarly intellectual artistic approach to music, with grandly modern results.

At times Siberry is moody and folksy--like Vega or Janis Ian.  At other times she's as brassy as Barbra Streisand, and both styles are sung in a little-girl-lost voice.  The resulting album sends off so many mixed messages it never settles on a single theme, or even group of themes. One minute we're reaching grand operatic musical pinnacles (such as "The Bird in the Gravel," a sort of Wagnerian mini-opera), the next we're hearing just another little-girl-lost lament (the title track). 

In summary the grand arrangements simply don't fit Siberry's voice or lyrics.  She obviously has keen intellect and ambition.  She writes poetic lyrics well.  Unfortunately it's going to take another album for her to present these raw musical abilities as a viable mainstream pop concept.   

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Note:  Jane Siberry's Web site is www.janesiberry.com and she also has her own Wikipedia entry.  

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