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Jane Siberry


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

She is a goddess.

Jane is truly unclassifiable. Her music is evocative and eclectic, sometimes folk rock occasionally comedic, and, recently, jazz. (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

I would say the best overall genre to place Jane in (besides the goddess category) is alternative pop. With each album Jane experiments and changes style. Through the span of her career her music has been variously flavoured with folk (Teenager, Jane Siberry), pop (No Borders Here, The Speckless Sky), ethereal/emotive pop (The Walking), folk/rock (Bound by the Beauty), techno-ethereal (When I was a Boy), and jazz (Maria), now sort of world spiritual pop. She's an especially difficult artist to place in any one genre, because the instant you think you know where she's coming from she changes direction. Her music is, however, always evocative and affecting. (Neile)

Lyrics with incidental music? (jbr@casetech.dk)

Status:

Most recent release, Meshach Dreams Back (2011)

See also:

Jane Siberry's site

Sheeba Records: All Things Siberry

No Borders Here: The Unofficial Jane Siberry Home Page

Covers/own material:

Own material, some covers

Comparisons:

Jane is the standard against which others are compared—seriously. It was such comparisons that forced me to listen to her. (dbx@aa.net)

Laurie Anderson (music), Tori Amos (voice), Harriet Wheeler (voice). (jbr@casetech.dk)

General comments:

For one recording, Dragon Dreams (2008) Jane Siberry was known as Issa, but she has reclaimed her Jane Siberry name.

The full length, breadth, and depth of Jane Siberry's music is simply impossible to nail down in a short description. The only way she should be experienced is to gather her albums, set aside a lot of time and thought, and really listen. Yet, of course, I'll try here.
     Siberry is an extraordinarily gifted songwriter. She can take the most silly-sounding idea (such as a runaway cow) and make it just plain fun, or touching, or deeply philosophical, or all of these at the same time. Her lyrics range from the very straightforward to highly abstract to deftly subtle to extraordinarily deep. She is a master of the oblique thrust, thus it's not uncommon to listen to a song for the dozenth time then suddenly see a deeper level which drastically shifts your view of the song (or even your life). It's not uncommon to listen to her music and suddenly and even mysteriously be touched deeply. It's not uncommon to laugh with a song on one listen, dance on its second, and cry during the third. She has a knack of evoking powerful emotions ranging from deep sadness, depression, pain, and darkness to pure joy, celebration, and exhilaration, again sometimes in the same song. All of her lyrics are enriched by a wonderfully sharp wit and generous sense of humor.
     Thematically, her lyrics touch on many different aspects of life, viewed from many different angles and people. Her most general theme is how tough and ambiguous life is. It holds no safety. Life is a double-edged sword, and all you can do is grasp its blade, bear the pain, find all the happiness you can, and do your best.
     Her music shares the wide ranging inventiveness of her lyrics. In fact, she uses the music to weave an emotional setting which reinforces and deepens her lyrics. The musical centerpiece is her voice. It's not the best voice, a bit thin and wispy, but she employs it, even its limitations, to marvelous effect, hopping, skipping, talking, droning, etc., in and around her melodies and lyrics. It takes on many different voices, in the foreground, background, left side, right side, simultaneously. A list of the instrumentation sounds conventional and straightforward, but the music is wonderfully varied, intricate, detailed, and filled with surprises. While she has a strong knack for melody and hooks, she uses them with much restraint. They tend to pop up out of nowhere in a chorus or a bridge or anywhere, and some can stick in your head for days. (dbx@aa.net)

———

Jane is subversive, and may sneak up on you when you least expect it. I speak from experience, because it took me about a year before Jane "clicked" with me. My partner was a huge fan before I was, but he never pushed me to like her. One day (actually, while watching an interview and not while listening to an album) something happened, similar to someone turning on a light, and I went "OH, YEAH!" and after that I listened to her music with a different mindset. Jane became one of my favorites. That was back in 1985, and I've been a fan ever since. When I listened to No Borders Here again after my "enlightenment" and really got into getting to know it, almost all the songs grew on me and I came to love them. I did figure out that one reason Jane hadn't clicked with me was because I really couldn't stand the songs "The Waitress" and "I Muse Aloud" (all those "my babys" put me off) so I think that soured my view of the rest of the album. I have since come to like both songs, but for a long time I just started the album on the 3rd song, and they're still my least favorite Jane songs.
     At the same time...hmmm, well, Jane is Jane, and there's no one like her. In Janeland, there is a definite logical progression from the first to the most recent album. In Janeland, you have to forget everyone/thing else and listen and "accept" on *her* terms. In Janeland, you can start out thinking that you're walking through a simple corridor, and the weird thing about being "enlightened" is that you find that things don't get *easier* to understand, but that things are more complicated than you imagined possible, so you end up realizing that you're *actually* walking through a maze of twisty little passages, all different, and you find that it gets fun, it really does. Those passages aren't always easy to understand (sometimes, impossible) but she can make you think *and* have fun while trying. Her sense of humor is unusual, sharp, yet bent, yet subtle.
     She's subversive alright, but in the nicest possible way. She's, in my opinion, worth some extra effort to try to understand, worth paying extra attention to, and, if nothing else, hanging on to for a while longer. (vickie@enteract.com)

———

Jane Siberry has an odd, "weak" voice; you have the feeling of somebody very quiet tentatively speaking up (not as powerful voice as Tori Amos', but some of the same qualities). The music mainly serves as accompaniment for the lyrics, but sometimes it is reminiscent of some of Laurie Anderson's more sparse arrangements. The most prominent feature of Siberry's songs is the lyrics: Odd, flow-of-consciousness texts. The songs requires a good deal of concentration to appreciate. (jbr@casetech.dk)

———

each album by ms siberry is different. so if you pick up on of her albums don't expect to find the same sound on another album, though there are certainly overlaps and transitions between the two. musical styles (ranging from granola folk to freeform jazz, with a sidebar of '80s electronica). all i can say is that each and every album is nearly completely different than the other. she is also hard to pin down with comparisons, but if i were to pick names, the closest people who come near her musically would be Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, and Mary Margaret O'Hara. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

———

I always try to provide comparisons to give someone a better idea of whether they would like an artist or not. But everyone that popped into my mind was someone that I would describe by saying that they sounded a bit like Jane, oddly though, not the other way around. The closest I could come vocally is Patty Larkin on her Perishable Fruit CD. In fact, Jane did a lovely background vocal on a song from this album that could easily have been a Sib song. Her albums are so incredibly different, and I'm by no means an expert as I do not have them all. Maria is a little too jazzy for my taste and Bound By the Beauty is too country for me. Teenager is probably (as someone already mentioned) something that would appeal to fans...nothing there to really knock you down.
     I can't imagine why her voice wouldn't be considered pretty. There are very few songs that threaten to bring me to tears, but "Calling All Angels" is one of them...musically and lyrically. The harmony vocal is by kd lang, and I have to say that Jane matches her note for note. Even though I've played it to death and am a little tired of it, it still manages to get to me. I remember thinking about how her vocal technique reminded me somewhat of Joni Mitchell on this song...mostly the vibrato.
     Regarding other comparisons that have been made, I think the one that I really don't get is Kate Bush. I can understand perhaps a comparison to the intelligence or unusualness (OK...I do know that this is not a real word) of the songwriting. Musically and vocally, though, I probably wouldn't go there. I'd be much more inclined to lean toward bits of Laurie Anderson or Suzanne Vega with a little Joni Mitchell thrown in. Best I can do. But I do have to say that you should not make a judgement based on listening to one album. Depending on how wide-ranging your musical taste is, chances are you will not care for all of her releases. Give everything a try. (JavaHo@aol.com)

———

Personally, I think Jane Siberry and Sheeba are a good example of what happens when artists try to run the whole business themselves—they spend so much time trying to keep the business afloat, that they don't have time to dedicate to creating music. Jane's Sheeba releases so far have comprised of a odd collection of random sounds (A Day in the Life), songs written when she was a teenager (Teenager), three live CDs (the New York Trilogy), and now Hush, a collection of folk standards. Don't see a new Jane composition in the bunch (ok, perhaps a couple of the live songs were new, but most were not)—and the New York Trilogy could definitely have used more production (or at least rehearsal time).
     Jane may have felt overly pressured and constricted when she was on a major label, but they gave her the time, money, and production assistance required to create a true masterpiece—When I Was a Boy. Something I doubt she's capable of on her own. But at least she is continuing to put out records.
     While I wish Sheeba the best, and I'm rooting for Jane all the way, and will continue to probably buy everything she releases, I really wonder if an artist can be at their creative best while answering telephones, filling orders, scrambling for funds for studio time, etc. The fact that Jane, an established artist with lots of experience is having difficulty, makes me wonder what the real chances of success for any unknown artist doing this are. Jane has enough of a fan base that she can actually sell stuff for ridiculous prices, and charge phenomenal prices for house concerts. Something unknowns don't stand a chance of accomplishing. I guess the Ani Difrancos of the world really are a rare breed. But then Ani has a persistence and dedication that very few people possess.
     Jane Siberry has got to be mentioned when you talk of artists who range in style—the move from the meticulously crafted When I Was a Boy, to the loose improv nature of Maria has to be one of the most radical.
     Well, enough ranting—on to listening.(jjhanson@att.net)

———

Someone was asking for comparisons—now that's the hard part. She's not really like Laurie Anderson or Tori Amos or Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays) as described above. She's only like Jane Siberry. Few people are like her, though I have heard bits and pieces of her sound in other people's music (Janie Mitchell, Goya Dress, Meg Lunney, Whitney Rehr, Rebecca Timmons to name a few).
     Another problem is that each album is different—it's almost as though there's a Jane album for everyone. I think that The Walking and When I Was a Boy are two of the most brilliant and most ecto-defining albums ever. I love the lively fun of the folky Jane Siberry and Bound by the Beauty, the '80s synth No Borders Here and The Speckless Sky and the jazzy Maria. I have to confess that I am really really tired of the kind of music that Jane is doing right now. For someone who changed styles between each album, it feels to me like she has been doing the jazzy rock torch style forever now. I've loved all her albums up to and including Maria, but the only reason I bought Hush was to support her for old times' sake. I no longer own my copies of the New York Trilogy and Teenager because even though we are huge fans of her other work and listen to the pre-1996 discs often, we never listen to these and are never likely to.
     When Jane sings it's not the quality of her voice that matters so much as what and how she sings. I'm not say her voice can't be a great instrument—I'm just saying it's not "pretty" like Sarah McLachlan's—not that she can't sing prettily. Her voice is evocative and her songwriting is real genius. (Neile)

———

I been listening to Jane Siberry since the early '80s. I think Bound by the Beauty is one of the most brilliant albums on this earth. But when I was in a music store and I saw Maria, I was "oh boy" then I listened. I've tried to get into it over these several years, but I can't. It sounds to me like a lot of aimless Ooooh-ing and Aaaah-ing. But a couple of years later I found The Walking used for 5 bucks. That made up for it. :-) Sorry Jane, I'm a big fan. But I ain't diggin' much the solo piano & horn stuff much. I try, though, because it's you. (jfrancis@villagenet.com)

———

Jane Siberry is *really* hard to recommend to anyone, because she's so out there. Even her pop stuff is just plain weird.
     Mind you, to *me* that's a fabulously amazingly wonderful weird, at least mostly, but that's just me. Oh, and lots of ectophiles too.
     But definitely not everyone.
     Part of the problem is, as many have pointed out, that every album sounds different, while still somehow maintaining an unmistakable Janeness. And you're fairly unlikely to have heard her anywhere, at least in the US, with the possible exception of her "Calling All Angels" on the Until the End of the World soundtrack. (that's a duet with kd lang, and it also appears on When I Was a Boy)
     For instance: every now and then, the issue of whether Bound By the Beauty is "country." comes up. I only hear one country song on there ("Something About Trains"), though perhaps some other tracks have some country tinge to them. Other people hear the album and think it just *screams* country.
     When I Was a Boy is, to my ear, probably the most easily categorized as ectophilic (though one might successfully argue that Jane is one of the prototype artists who most inspired this so-called genre, so all of her albums are ectophilic). It's lush and electronic and pop and folk and ethereal and electronic and all sorts of everything rolled into one brilliant package that screams to be listened to in the dark on good 'phones.
     Jane can be a *difficult* artist. She's one of those perfect examples of why I hate listening stations. If I'd given her a cursory glance, I'd have dissed her in an instant. In fact, I almost did, back in '89 when I bought it on a lark, inspired by comments on rec.music.gaffa. If I hadn't as much respect for the opinions of people pushing Jane, I would have abandoned her quickly after first hearing No Borders Here. As it was, it wasn't long before I dashed out to pick up another...
     and yes, it sounded completely different.
     and wonderful.
     My guess is that this doesn't help at all as to whether or not to order, but maybe it'll amuse you. ;-) (burka@jeffrey.net)

———

Sigh. To me, Jane's No Borders Here and The Speckless Sky (and to a lesser extent, The Walking) are all about my discovery of music back in my high school years. Trudging through the silent snow on the way to school, listening to "Mimi on the Beach" on my walkperson, fresh snowflakes whirling down.
     I suppose that they do sound horribly '80s (particularly the brittle production values on No Borders Here) but I don't really hear it—I guess I'm just turning into a nostalgic old fart myself. Like a balding ageing hippie who won't listen to any music made past 1970. :)
     So yeah—rush out and buy them! (nkg@vcn.bc.ca)

———

Within Jane's oeuvre, I'd choose Maria and the post-Maria works over the earlier "classics" such as The Walking and When I Was A Boy. Those are indeed beautiful and classically well-formed albums, but having listened to a lot of music in my time (I own over 10000 albums now), that isn't really what interests me anymore. Instead I hope for albums or artists or genres that are notable for showing more individuality than the norm.
     Jane is very unusual in that she has become more and more individual, more "Jane", as her career has progressed. For that alone each release should be treasured. (peter@uxa.liv.ac.uk)

Comments about live performance:

Jane had with her the same group of musicians as in New York, except we didn't get the special appearance by Gail Ann Dorsey. :( It was really interesting how Jane basically took a back seat to her musicians for pretty much the entire show, and let the entire ensemble shine on their own. I was blown away by Marlon Saunders' voice too—turns out he used to be in Bobby McFerrin's vocal ensemble (the CircleSongs group), which certainly made sense to me. One song he was singing the bass line, and the next he was wailing away in a very strong barely falsetto. Amazing. Catherine Russell also had a great, soulful voice. I don't know if Rebecca Campbell was nursing a cold or if it was just the contrast with those other two, but she just didn't sound very good at all that night. Kind of a shame.
     The show was very close to the Christmas shows from last year from whence Child came, except this time they hilariously screwed up "The Twelve Days of Christmas". I was in pain by the end of it, I was laughing so hard. :) And they did a neat new arrangement of "Shir Anami", which they'd done with a member of the Klezmatics last year (it's on the album too). I was surprised to hear that one again. All in all, yet another wonderful Jane show to chalk up to experience. She never fails to amaze. (c. 1997)
     Jane Siberry at the Bottom Line was the third of four shows there as she kicked off the American leg of her Solo Pilgrim Tour. I can't think of any way to describe it other than it was a quintessentially Jane evening. She came onstage as a prerecorded multi-track vocal song played on the PA (something about climbing Jacob's ladder), wearing a mink stole and very grandmother's-day-out dress and little glasses, wielding a dustcloth, which she plied on the instruments onstage (organ on one side, piano on the other) and on the microphone in the middle. (woj mentioned later that he thinks it's a real shame that Jane will never be anybody's grandmother, and after seeing that little display I have to concur. :)
     She played a nice mix of stuff, from "When Last I Was A Fisherman" to a few old-world traditional tunes (from Wales, Scotland, and Newfoundland), to the surprise of the evening, a lovely rendition of "The Empty City". The set ended with a rousing version of "Begat Begat (Spring is coming)" interspersed with "River of Life" (they're practically the same song anyway), and for an encore she came back and did "Calling All Angels", which ended with the entire audience singing along, and that wasn't cheesy at all, because it happened spontaneously and everyone was actually singing well. :)
     The show was well worth sitting squashed in the corner waaaaay off to the side of the stage right on the other side of the wall where the waitrons dump the empty bottles as they fly in and out of the kitchen I was accompanied by a friend who had never seen Jane before, and she thought it was great, too. (6/99)
     Her Acoustic Cafe show was transcendent. She had already done one show there that night, but she didn't come across as tired at all. She was funny and typically self-deprecating and in fine voice. I didn't mind the backing tracks, though I don't think they added very much to the proceedings. Every Jane show is a unique experience. We all left very happy to have been a part of it. (11/01, meth@smoe.org)

The best part of the whole show was Jane Siberry, whom I totally adore and respect for her unique talents. I have all of her albums, too. Her voice is so delicate and gorgeous; her lyrics are light and often humorous; and her musical compositions are extraordinary! She has such a variety of styles...but it's always happy and optimistic kind of stuff. "Love is Everything" from her album When I Was a Boy was one of the highlights of the night. And she also performed the lead for the ensemble's version of "Midnight Train to Georgia" (with the whole audience joining in for the "hoo! hoo!s). Jane also seemed to be enjoying herself more than any of the other performers, making frequent hand gestures to accompany the music, and taking photos of other tour members. (c. 1998, Riphug@aol.com)

Jeff and I flew to Tucson to see one of Jane's solo City shows. It's always a treat to see Jane. If this show were done by anyone else, it probably would have been a disappointment, and it's definitely the least of Jane's shows I've seen. I think she really shines in orchestrating interesting interplay between musicians, and solo she's left with too much to carry. This is the first Jane concert I've seen that didn't have any transcendant moments, though it had plenty of sublime Jane conversation, and a really surprising set list.
     I was most surprised to hear "You Don't Need" from No Borders Here. That was one of the songs that worked best with a solo guitar arrangement. We also had a mangled version of "Everything Reminds Me Of My Dog", and stuff from Hush and When I Was A Boy. And lots of songs from her newly released odds and ends album City. There were a few songs that she did with backing tracks, which seemed way too restrictive for Jane's usual freewheeling nature, and may as well have been album tracks. Jane played piano, electric guitar, and keyboard. I'd seen her play as a duo where Tim Ray handled the keys, and while Jane is a fine piano player, Tim is exceptional. She could really have used his musicianship to lift this show up. So I was a bit disappointed, but was still happy to get whatever sampling of live Jane I could. (11/01, neal) My first concert since moving to North Carolina was at the Carolina Arts Centre, an intimate venue in a small town shopping center.
     Issa's look reminded me of Jane's '80s look, and the music did too, in a way, in the sort of loose, almost formless songs like "The Bird in the Gravel," unconventional songs that you listen to with no idea where they were going next. The new songs are kind of like that, but also in the vein of the songs from the New York Trilogy shows/albums. The songs incorporated animal sounds (birds, dogs; there was a moose in one song, but she might not have 'sounded' it), conversations, phone calls. They ranged from funny to thought-provoking ("Children, what do you need to feel safe" was a line in a song inspired by teens who hung out at a bus shelter in an English village; "Even as we fall from grace, grace shall lift us up and teach us our power" was a line from another song) to poignant ("Mama, let us agree to disagree, my life is fine and you can be free" was the chorus of one song, inexact wording). And there was some weirdness thrown in too. But Issa was mesmerizing.
     Her performance was quite theatrical; her body movements and facial expressions. It's hard to imagine how these songs would translate to a CD. Her voice is as beautiful as ever. Tim's piano is as fantastic as ever. He also played a small keyboard that sat on top of the grand piano, adding to the theatricality of the night with flute and organ sounds, deep basses, and royal brass (for the song "When We Are Queen").
     There was one break, and Tim started the second set with a beautiful piano solo that ended with "The Valley."
     It was the smallest and quietest audience I'd experienced, probably about 45 people. A clearly appreciative audience. I don't think she's come too near here before, so long-time fans were absolutely thrilled to have her. "Graced," one woman put it.
     All in all, a wonderful night. I highly highly recommend you catch an upcoming show if you can. I can't say that I entirely like this new direction, but I find it fascinating, especially live. It's an experience. (10/07, JoAnn Whetsell)

Recommended first album:

Jane Siberry. (dbx@aa.net)

When I Was a Boy. (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

I am a major Siberry missionary: I've often joked that being a Siberry fan is a prerequisite for inclusion in my circle of friends; everyone I meet gets the treatment eventually. I've had the most success introducing people to Jane's music when I start with Bound by the Beauty. In general, most people are intimidated by what the uninitiated see as archness or even pretentiousness in The Walking and When I Was a Boy. Once I get them sucked in by the sheer listenable friendly joy of Bound by the Beauty, I set the hook with When I Was a Boy or The Walking, depending. Of course, an experienced ectophile may be able to handle the weight and depth of the latter two without supervision. (lissener@wwa.com)

This is a tricky question, as Jane's albums cover a very wide range of styles. In my opinion, The Walking is a good place to start because it gives a feel for Jane's rather weird approach without being too extreme. If you get into that album you'll have something to relate her other music to. I also think that The Walking has the highest consistency of songwriting on it of all her albums that I know, with the possible exception of When I Was a Boy. The latter is a smoother, more fully produced, more compelling album (in my opinion) but, unlike The Walking gives (taken on its own) a somewhat lopsided view of what Jane's music can involve.
     Jane's first (self-titled) album is one of my favourites too, but it's a much simpler, sparser sounding work. I actually started out with Bound by the Beauty which did the trick for me, but which I appreciated even more after getting into The Walking. So I'd recommend, in order:
     1. The Walking
     2. When I Was a Boy
     3. Jane Siberry
     4. Bound by the Beauty
(nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

I'd recommend, in order:
     1. The Walking
     2. When I Was a Boy
     3. The Speckless Sky
     4. No Borders Here
     5. Jane Siberry
     6. Bound by the Beauty
(kbmoore@indiana.edu)

They're all so great. Just different. I love Bound by the Beauty. I know lots of people who like When I Was a Boy best, but while it's great for 'phones, I find that it just doesn't get as much play as No Borders Here or Bound by the Beauty. (burka@jeffrey.net)

When I Was a Boy is first, The Walking is second, Maria third & Bound by the Beauty would be fourth. Teenager fifth, The Speckless Sky and child tie for seventh, and Jane Siberry and No Borders Here tied for ninth. (stunning@tezcat.com)

The Walking remains my favorite Siberry album, very closely followed by When I Was a Boy. Talk about true acts of genius. (Alvin.Brattli@phys.uit.no)

It's kind of hard to suggest where to start, since her career has really gone all over the place. Here's a few suggestions.
     1. When I Was a Boy
     2. Bound by the Beauty
     3. The Walking
     4. Maria
     5. No Borders Here, The Speckless Sky.
Anyway, I'm a huge Jane fan but I don't recommend starting with Teenager. (neal)

Recordings:


Jane Siberry

Release info:

1980—East Side Digital—ESD-80512

Availability:

Canada: Wide, U.S.: Moderate (re-released in 1991)

Ecto priority:

Absolute must have. (dbx@aa.net)

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, harmonies, guitar, piano, synthesizer

Guest artists:

Carl Keesee—bass, clarinet
John Switzer—bass
David Bradstreet—electric 12-string guitar and kick drum
David Houghton—drums

Comments:

Her debut album introduces the basics of Jane Siberry. By her standards, the lyrics and music are straightforward (though not by anyone else's standards! :) ). As such it serves as fine a starting point as any. There is not a single song on this album that I would rank as low as "good" or maybe even "fine". (dbx@aa.net)

this comes closest to "folk" as her music gets, as it's songs of Jane that she performed in coffeeshops in and around town. pretty sparse musically, think first two albums of Suzanne Vega, with more vocal layering and harmonizing, using her voice to create textures and sounds, more than just lyrics. she explores this much more in later albums. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

This album doesn't sound anything like No Borders Here or (The Speckless Sky) (there's a surprise). It's a fairly straightforward folk album, though it's got that Jane voice and quirky humor. Since the arrangements are simpler and mostly guitar-based, it doesn't sound as dated as the albums immediately following it. (Though I find great pleasure in listening to early Jane. The arrangements and instruments can be dated, but the lyrics are great and the music is fun.) (neal)


No Borders Here

Release info:

1984—Duke Street Records—OA-0302

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. (dbx@aa.net)

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, guitar, keyboards

Guest artists:

John Switzer—bass, percussion
Ken Myhr—guitar, percussion
Al Cross—drums, percussion, Linndrum
Doug Wilde—keyboards
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards
Rob Yale—Fairlight programming

Produced by:

John Goldsmith, Kerry Crawford, Jane Siberry, and John Switzer

Comments:

This was the first Jane Siberry album I heard and she became an immediate favourite artist of mine. There something so fun about this album. Later albums may overshadow it, but it's still a delight. (Neile)

Though her songwriting is as strong as ever, the album has a quiet reflective downbeat tone, and none of the songs grab me. While still an excellent album, I consider this her weakest. Well, one album has to be. :) (dbx@aa.net)

My least favorite Jane album; absolutely wonderful. (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

No Borders Here is most "like" the first album (Jane Siberry) and yet foreshadows the 3rd album (The Speckless Sky) quite nicely. It's most different from The Walking and When I Was A Boy and Bound By The Beauty. (vickie@enteract.com)

No Borders Here is Jane discovering the synthesizer and becoming very NU WAVE '80s. i don't listen to it very often, but it is surprisingly catchy, if not a little dated sounding. very perky pop electronic keyboards, and fairlight programming everywhere. i find this the least interesting album out of all her albums, and maybe it is because it is so dated sounding. the entire album screams of '80s electronic ricky ticky noises and drum machines and i feel trapped (like the ubiquitous mime in an invisible box) in a time warp that i cannot escape from when i hear it. it is way too '80s synth for me, and that mimi on the beach mimi on the beach mimi on the beach mimi on the beach mimi on the beach mimi on the beach mimi on the beach enough already! but i still love parts of the album). (iflin@speakeasy.net)

When I first bought No Borders Here I did a "what the hell were they talking about when they suggested this freak?" double-take. I quickly grew to love it. This is probably my fave of the Jane albums I've got or have heard. (burka@jeffrey.net)


The Speckless Sky

Release info:

1985—Duke Street Records—OA-6-0305

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Must have. (dbx@aa.net)

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, keyboards, guitars

Guest artists:

Al Cross—drums
Anne Bourne—keyboards
John Switzer—bass
Ken Myhr—guitar, guitar synth
Rob Yale—Fairlight programming, keyboards

Produced by:

Jane Siberry and John Switzer

Comments:

This is Jane Siberry at her most accessible, as she weaves some of her most memorable melodies and hooks throughout the album. While the album can be thoroughly enjoyed at this level, don't stop there. Beneath the shimmering uplifting surface lurks some very deep depths, especially exploring the deep unspeakable pain and avoidance of the same in losing love, especially its effect on the creation of art. An absolutely amazing album with absolutely no flaws (well, I caught a typo in the liner notes :) ). (dbx@aa.net)

I *love* The Speckless Sky. It's the first of Jane's albums I heard so that's part of the reason. Just so wide-open and out there. Whimsical and just somehow right. (kbmoore@indiana.edu)

This is my second Jane, the other being When I Was a Boy. The Speckless Sky is a lot different, has a definite "'80s feel" to it. Which isn't bad, but it's not like When I Was a Boy. Most of the disc is great, but there are a couple of songs that aren't as good as the others—but they aren't bad either. Make sense? :-) (Matt.Bittner)

The Speckless Sky is a transitional album (think Kate Bush's Never For Ever between The Kick InsideLionheart early work and her The Dreaming/Hounds of Love masterpieces). strong in songwriting, there are still elements of the '80s electronic keyboard in the songs, but the songs don't quite sound as throw away or as kitschy as they do on No Borders Here. (iflin@speakeasy.net)


The Walking

Release info:

1987—Duke Street Records/Reprise (US)—9-25678-2

Availability:

Wide in Canada, very limited in U.S. and elsewhere

Ecto priority:

Absolute "must have"

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, guitar, keyboards

Guest artists:

Al Cross—drums
Anne Bourne—keyboards
John Switzer—bass
Ken Myhr—guitar

Produced by:

John Switzer and Jane Siberry

Comments:

This is Siberry's masterpiece, which paradoxically means it's her most difficult, obscure, abstract, and complex album. Some of the songs seem to be bottomless pits of meaning. Even when the meanings are more fully understood, the album is still difficult, touching on strong subjects and emotions which are depressing, sad, even disturbing. Don't look towards this album for light listening, but it well rewards every piece of time and thought put into it (and keep at it!). One powerful album. (dbx@aa.net)

a desert island disc, for when i want to feel lonely and alive at the same time. The Walking is one of her masterpieces. stunning, it's her The Dreaming or Hounds of Love in terms of pinnacle emotions and surreality.
     it is an album of loss and introspection. with songs like "Goodbye": "i went to say i love you and instead i said goodbye" to the actual song "The Walking (and constantly)" to "The Bird and The Gravel", which is a 9-minute long experimental soundscape of thought, emotion, and season changes. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

a desert island disc for me. (bye@humnet.ucla.edu)

I was inspired to pull out The Walking and listen to it this afternoon. Gods, what a brilliant album. Jane is truly a goddess. :) (meth@smoe.org)

The Walking is her best album. (colford@chlotrudis.org)

well, i think that everything that she's done is fabulous, but my favorite album is the walking. i like it because her voice is really beautiful on it, and the lyrics are interesting and sometimes amusing. (clsriram@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)

Poignant, heartfelt, quirky...words don't do it justice. (hrussell@bellsouth.net)

This is another fairly dense album, but on a more intimate scale than When I Was a Boy. Beautiful, haunting, kind of stark. (neal)

My personal fave. (phclark@uswest.net)


Bound by the Beauty

Release info:

1989—Duke Street Records/Reprise (US)—9-25942-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Must have

Group members:

Jane Siberry—guitars, piano, vocals

Guest artists:

Teddy Borowiecki—piano, accordion
Ken Myhr—guitar
John Switzer—bass
Stich Wynston—drums

Produced by:

John Switzer and Jane Siberry

Comments:

This is as straightforward as Siberry gets. The music especially follows more conventional song structures, even stealing from other genres, such as country and western. The lyrics lack the depth and complexity of earlier albums (though some songs still reward a lot of thought and digging). Instead she takes a unique sharply observant Siberrian view of ordinary life. The album holds the finest examples of her humor. (dbx@aa.net)

Bound By The Beauty was a return to the folk sound after her densest album to date (The Walking). This one has a slight country tinge to it too. It's a great intro to Jane at her catchiest and has many doses of her humor. I loved this album immediately. It has more whimsy than some of her more serious works, but still many powerful and personal moments. (neal)

Bound By The Beauty does have a country feel to it (in the manner of the eagles, neil young, steve stills); but the title track is infectious and the album is worth it for "Hockey" alone. (sam@ansys.com)

I'd forgotten how much I utterly love the album, *especially* the title track. ;-) It's gotta be one of the most thrilling songs I've heard about a deep and utter appreciation for nature. "and everything the verdant...the verdant...the verdant...the verdant trees". My only complaint about Bound By The Beauty is that this segment of "Map of the World" doesn't come close to living up to the segment on No Borders Here. Oh well. (burka@jeffrey.net)

The song "hockey" is my favorite Jane song of all time...even if Bound By The Beauty is only my fourth or fifth favorite Jane CD. (stunning@tezcat.com)

I've played it several times now and love every song on it. ;-) (Riphug@aol.com)

Bound By The Beauty is (yes, someone had to say it) My Favorite Album. I love it precisely for the wide range of themes and styles, while still maintaining a cohesive whole. "Hockey" IS winter (but what do I know, I'm from Mississippi/Alabama). "Everything Reminds Me Of My Dog" is vintage Siberry quirkiness. "The Life Is The Red Wagon" is my favorite keep-going-no-matter-what song (and the video wonderfully complements it). "Half Angel Half Eagle" builds so much tension and then has an exquisite release ("a shudder in the colour of the warehouse wall" sends shivers up my spine every time). "La Jalouse" IS jealousy. "Miss Punta Blanca" IS mindless fun. And "Are We Dancing Now" IS that first spark of love.
     Anyway, my nominees for songs to really listen to on that album would be "The Life", "Half Angel", and "Are We Dancing Now". Actually, you should probably skip the first two tracks ("Something About Trains" has a very...country...feel to it, although it does have this cool electric guitar things in it a couple times). Oh, and I'm not saying the first two songs are bad. They're just probably not the best songs with which to get into the album. (mageeol@ro.com)

Bound By The Beauty is a return to her folk (at times almost country) roots, and has some beautiful gems like "Hockey" and "Life is a Red Wagon". recorded in four days it is spontaneous with out being fluffy, lighthearted without being sappy, and accessible without being watered down. definitely worth getting.
     that i LOVE LOVE LOVE Bound By The Beauty. "Hockey" is my all-time favorite Jane song, though i flip back and forth between that song and the song "The Walking) and "The Life is the Red Wagon". this album is probably the closest to country she gets.
     it will always have a special place in my heart. it was the first Jane album i ever heard, when i randomly picked it up at the local library. it was just sitting there and i thought, hey why not? has a cool looking chick on the cover, and it looks vaguely familiar.
     i fell in love with the freshness and the clarity of the album, of the sheer spontaneity that it invoked. and "Hockey", that song is WINTER to me. i can feel the cold wind rush through my clothing, and me bundling under a huge wool sweater, wading through snow, with barren tree branches above me. i can almost feel the ice skates underneath my feet as i skate across the lake (okay i have never skated across a lake in my life, but this song makes me feel like i have, like it is yearly occurrence in my life). that is how much i love that song. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Another favorite is Bound by the Beauty—slightly on the americana side, some fun quirky songs ("everything reminds me of my dog"), some pretty ballads. (hrussell@bellsouth.net)

"Bound by the Beauty" is one of those songs that goes deep into my heart and makes it go ZING! I get a physical sensation in my body every time I listen to it. (valrichardson@igc.org)

I once played my (at the time) favorite Jane album Bound by the Beauty for some friends. They told me they didn't like country music. "Country music?" I asked. I guess, but I think of it as Jane Siberry music. (ken@isis.ST.3Com.COM)

When I listen to her sing "I'm bound by the beauteeeeeee", it's like nails scratching on the chalkboard. I've tried really, really hard to get into this, because everything else she does is brilliant. But I just can't listen to this CD without making a mad dash for the Eject button. (valerie@smoe.org)

Perhaps her most accessible album for the new initiate. Great stuff on this. (phclark@uswest.net)


When I Was a Boy

Release info:

1993—Reprise—9-26824-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Absolute "must have"

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Ken Myhr—guitars, percussion, vocals
Anne Bourne—cello
James Pinker—drums

Produced by:

Jane Siberry, Brian Eno and Michael Brook

Comments:

Brilliant. A spiritual journey with love as a guide, Brian Eno as co-producer on some of the strongest tracks, and lyrics comprised of heart-wrenching, beautiful poetry. Words cannot adequately describe this work of genius. (meth@smoe.org)

I don't care for much of "Sweet Incarnadine", but the rest...oh man...completely magical. Her most fully-realized album to date. (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)

Didn't really like it at first, but one day something clicked and it just all fell into place. Been listening to it regularly ever since. Absolutely brilliant! (jjhanson@att.net)

This album is quite subdued musically and lyrically, creating a reflective mood, as she philosophically explores love, life, and death. Her points are more direct than her usual oblique attacks. Of course, it is a Siberry album, so some songs do require a lot of thought and digging. (dbx@aa.net)

Sinéad O'Connor meets kd lang meets Kate Bush. Earthy lush rhythmic backgrounds for a haunting voice and deep lyrics (sounds like I'm describing Happy Rhodes's music as well!). I stumbled upon this album by chance. It reminds me of hot summer nights with a full moon. (groovy@his.com)

A classic. I really like the Eno-produced pieces and the drum loop songs. I could listen to "Temple" and "All The Candles In The World" over and over. And I did. They're both on mix tapes for the car. There are a couple of turnoffs however, the meandering "Incarnadine" topping the list. (relph@presto.ig.com)

When I Was A Boy abounds with meaning—we get to see a lot of Jane's philosophy and personal beliefs/ideas. When I first heard it, I had to play it over and over—it is still a favorite, though not in as heavy rotation. (rholmes@CS.Stanford.EDU)

When I Was a Boy fits in stylistically with several other of my Ecto top ten, especially Sarah McLachlan's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, KaTe Bush's The Sensual World, Loreena McKennitt's The Mask and Mirror, and Happy Rhodes's Warpaint. I have a particular love of albums where the arrangements and production complement the writing and performing to engage one's interest on multiple planes simultaneously, and I definitely lean towards the fuller, more complex, you might say more sophisticated side of things musical—at least some of the time. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

I bought the CD because I had heard "Calling All Angels" and thought the song was stunning (although now that I've listened to it a thousand times, it has moved down the ladder to about fourth place in the song ranking on this disc). I remember hearing the full disc for the first time, though, and just thinking "What *is* this?" Although I didn't connect with it at first, I hung in there and gave it a few more spins. It was probably on the third or fourth listening that it clicked and I thought "Okay, *now* I get it!" That CD didn't leave my changer for a month and it's still a fave. (JavaHo@aol.com)

When I Was a Boy is different from what I had expected, but in a positive way. So far, my favourite song on it is "All the candles in the world". Dunno why, it just is. I think I will give the album a little time to grow on me (which I am convinced it will) before I buy my next Jane Siberry album. Jane Siberry's musical style made this album a little hard to digest the first couple of times I listened to it, but I soon realized that it is a truly excellent album. One I play again and again. (Alvin.Brattli@phys.uit.no)

When I Was a Boy is another true masterpiece. if The Walking is to Kate's Hounds of Love, then When I Was a Boy is to Kate's The Sensual World. lush, beautiful, perfect in nearly every way, it is incredibly complex and gorgeous. collaborating with Brian Eno and Michael Brooks, Jane is able to create an album full of spirituality, sensuality and seductiveness without becoming cloying, sappy, or (gasp the worst) ECTOBLAND. incredible, it is a lost masterpiece, and it is too bad that there are more people out there who don't own it or even know of its existence.
     When I Was a Boy was her highest profile album, the most expensive for her to make, and her most brilliant to date—in my opinion. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I (and many others) think this is Jane's masterpiece. It's the kind of dense recording with all sorts of sounds and voices that calls to mind Kate's The Dreaming and Hounds of Love. (Jane does not SOUND like Kate though.) (neal)

Tour de force. (phclark@uswest.net)

When I Was A Boy one of the most perfect and flawless creations of all time. (jsutton@rahul.net)


Maria

Release info:

1995—Reprise—9-45915-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, guitars

Guest artists:

Tim Ray—piano
Brian Blade—drums
Christopher Thomas—bass
David Travers-Smith—trumpet
Ian McLauchlan—percussion

Produced by:

Jane Siberry

Comments:

No artist has achieved what Jane has in the medium of Pop. No one. Her relationship to Pop music is the relationship of a poet to language or a painter to paint. No one this side of Mozart has been able to infuse music with the kind of raw emotion, with the authentic, palpable-but-ineffable spirituality that Jane has as a matter of course. Alone among people working in Pop (with the possible [though moot] exception of Mary Margaret O'Hara), this seems to be her artistic intention. Maria, a quasi-live jam session (in the last track of the album proper, she sings little introductions of the musicians) firmly rooted in the jazz vocabulary, reaches new heights—penetrates new depths—in the abstract representation of human emotion. By so successfully accessing and exposing her own "soul," Jane seems to be singing from the listener's. (lissener@wwa.com)

A lot of Jane fans were surprised by the jazz flavor of this release. If you have a slight jazz aversion, it may take several listens to recognize the genius behind this work. (jsutton@rahul.net)

When I heard the first strains of Maria I got really nervous. I was the first person I knew of to hear the songs (a friend gave me an early promo copy), and so I wasn't prepared at all, but as soon as I heard the second song "See the Child" I knew I was going to love this. My relationship with Siberry albums is long-term, and I know I will continue to find new & interesting nooks in this music. Jane with a jazz flavour is surprising, but surprisingly still more Jane than jazz. This album convinces me that conventional jazz instrumentation doesn't have to be boring. (Neile)

Yes, it is very different. But since when has Jane *not* gone in a new direction with each album? I think in its own way it's a brilliant piece of work, and I'm going to be finding new things in it for a long time.(meth@smoe.org)

like everyone said, JAZZ. i like it a lot, but then i like jazz too. real free form. some article (was it the reprise web site?) said her last 20 minute opus (oh my my) was akin to a song that gertrude stein would write and record if she wrote and recorded songs. i can see that. i can see it more on her song begat begat, the way jane plays with words and sounds and rhythms. fun, dashing, and quite a surprise for her longstanding fans, it still has her trademark voice and songwriting, but all accompanied with jazz session musicians. quite clean and spontaneous. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

From the first listen to this album it was obvious she's been influenced by Holly Cole—notably in the arrangements. And Jane's Maria just keeps getting better and better—as all her albums do on repeated listening. The only thing I miss on this album is her self-harmonizing, and layered vocal tracks. "Oh My My" is the only track that really does any of this. I also finally noticed the note in the booklet that says several of the lyrics are "recognizably inspired by songs known and loved". Obviously there's "Puff the Magic Dragon", and "Mary Had a Little Lamb", as well as a few of Jane's own—with lines like "And you scan the horizon" and "Oh my sweet sweet darling". In "Would You Go", the line "There's a hole in the roof where the rain comes in", is obviously reminiscent of The Beatles "Fixin' a Hole". "The long and dusty road"is also reminiscent of "The Long and Winding Road."
     Not at all the artistic masterpiece as When I Was a Boy, but still essentially Jane in a whole new way. Her evolution as an artist is amazing to watch, and despite a whole new direction, she still manages to retain the wonderful quirkiness she's always had in lines such as "I'm meandering as fast as I can." (jjhanson@att.net)

First listen to Maria was WONDERFUL—perfect environment to listen to it as well—last night in the beautiful city of Chicago in a thunderstorm. Me sitting on my dining room floor putting together the computer, with Maria playing in the background. I cannot describe it, not warm, not cold—not heart/ gut wrenching like When I was a Boy—but not without passion. Feels like a fine chilled Chardonay and a loaf of warm french bread, a fire going in the fireplace, and your favorite someone or a good book at your side. Bravo Jane! I particularly liked "See the Child" upon the first and second listenings. A few more and I'm sure I will immerse myself in "Oh My My". (groovy@his.com)

i like it very much, which is a bit odd considering most jazzy stuff i can't stand. "oh my my" is quite something. i love all the little point form "you wills" :) (damon)

Jane expands the jazzy touches that were showing up on When I was a Boy and lets them take over the album. Sounds like she's been hanging out with Holly Cole. (neal)

She should stick to folk or dreamscapes. (phclark@uswest.net)


Teenager

Release info:

1996—Sheeba—KOC-CD-7939

Availability:

See See Sheeba website

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, guitars, piano

Produced by:

Jane Siberry

Comments:

This quiet, folky album of songs written as a teenager is an odd choice to release. Probably would have never been released by a major label, which is perhaps why Jane chose to start her own. Some surprisingly good songwriting, and a very endearing album overall. Its simple production is another surprising change, considering the meticulous production of When I Was a Boy, and the jazzy improvisation of Maria. (jjhanson@att.net)

This album consists of new (i.e. done in 1996—these songs haven't been recorded previously as far as I know) recordings of songs written before or around the time of the songs that made it onto her first album. The arrangements are fittingly sparse, for the most part just Jane singing and playing acoustic guitar or piano. I can tell I'm going to like this one a lot. I think Jane Siberry is a too-often-forgotten classic, and the songs on Teenager could very well have been on that album too. There's even the fabled prequel to "The Mystery At Ogwen's Farm" on here, a song called "Bessie".
   Actually, perhaps the coolest moment on this album is the fourth track, "Song To My Father", which begins with Jane introducing it as the first song she wrote, when she was 16, then opens with a fragment of the original recording that sounds like it was done on an ancient tape recorder in someone's living room, and moves into the contemporary recording of the entire thing. It's a sweet, innocent song, like much of the songs on this album. It's wonderful that Jane has decided to give us all this glimpse back into her past. A must for all Jane-fans, without a doubt. (meth@smoe.org)

Teenager is a re-recording of old songs that Jane wrote when she was a teenager. it includes the early prequel song "Bessie" to the song "The Mystery of Ogwen's Farm" that appeared on her first album. probably not worth tracking down unless you are fan, or really like her first album a lot. lots of spare acoustic guitar, and songs that occasionally go a refrain one too long. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Teenager was an artist's album. Kind of, "here's stuff I wrote when I was younger and never had the opportunity to record." (JavaHo@aol.com)

I guess Teenager wasn't too smart a place to start with Jane Siberry, was it? Part of a day of music bingeing that is revealing the perils of impulse buying, it's not as bad as some but it's not about to make me want to pursue anything else by her. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

No, Teenager probably would not be anyone's recommended starting point, I don't think. While I love Jane, and I do like Teenager, it is certainly my least favorite of her albums. (neal)

I rescued this from the sales bin. These are (new) recordings of the first songs Jane wrote, accompanying herself on guitar or piano and backing vocals. I've only listened to this album once, and like it very much though the songs seem a bit the same (but that's usually my impression on first hearings). I find it amazing that these songs were indeed written when she was very young. (Marion)

If there is a general dislike of Teenager then I suspect it is more to do with an uneasiness with Jane's career path than with the album itself. Personally I can't see what there is to complain about. None of the songs are weak and, strangely, I find most of them to be vastly superior to the tracks on her first few albums. That is probably due to her maturity as a vocalist bringing out the best in each track, although I suspect the tracks have also been reworked somewhat from the originals. The album works well as a whole and is nicely produced (though that is unimportant and often a problem). You'd be far better off listening to the album than reading this review! It's one of my favourite Jane records, along with Maria and the live trilogy. Something to do with the earlier releases being too polished for my ears.... (peter@uxa.liv.ac.uk)


a day in the life: nyc 1997

Release info:

1997—Sheeba Records—SHECD002

Availability:

Mail order from Sheeba Records

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you're interested in hearing some of the things Jane Siberry is up to now.

Comments:

This is a collection of snippets from Jane Siberry's life, and includes all kinds of chat and excerpts of songs. The cover calls it "a 29 minute adventure". Bits of yoga classes, phone messages, conversations, street sounds, and a wide cast of characters including cab drivers, Patty Larkin, and k.d. lang. Entertaining and with two especially wonderful performances—"Haint It Funny" and "In My Dream". Conceived of as a thank you to people who have supported Sheeba Records, on its first anniversary. (Neile)

I almost think of A Day in the Life as a comedy album. (stunning@tezcat.com)

a day in the life is more aural cut-up art than anything else. it's interesting and i'm glad i have it, but i doubt i'll listen to it more than a couple times. (woj@smoe.org)


child

Release info:

1997—Sheeba Records—62156-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you're looking for some cool Christmas music.

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals

Guest artists:

Tim Ray—piano
Rebecca Campbell—vocals
Lisa Lindo—vocals
Gail Ann Dorsey—vocals, bass
Catherine Russell—vocals
Phillip Brown—vocals
David Travers-Smith—trumpet
Peter Kiesewalter—clarinet, sax, accordion
Dean Sharp—drums
Frank London—trumpet, piccolo
Vinni Nobile—trombone
Evan Richey—cello

Produced by:

Jane Siberry

Comments:

This is a collection of Christmas and winter songs recorded at the Bottom Line in December of 1996. Jane is a genius, I know, and she's a favourite genius of mine, but I just don't like holiday music, and not even Jane can make me like it. This is my problem, I know. I have played the heck out of the wonderful versions here of "Hockey" and "An Angel Stepped Down." The versions of "The Caravan" and "Hockey" are brilliant and I love them, but this is Xmas music, folks. My problem. Damn. (Neile)

I have to say that I love Child. I've noticed that out of the 4 shows' worth of material they gathered, they ended up using a lot of the final show on the album, which is one woj and I were at. It's definitely become an instant indispensable holiday collection for me.
     woj and I were just listening to this last night, and I was thinking what a wonderful album it is. It was one of the most enjoyable live concert experiences of my life, and to be able to relive it whenever I want is truly a great thing. One of the most amazing things about Jane is that no matter what she's doing, what kind of music it is, what she ends up doing is inherently *Jane*. These traditional tunes are no exception. You'll laugh, you'll find yourself misty-eyed ... and the musicians surrounding her for those performances are first rate. It's one of the best seasonal albums in my collection, no doubt. (meth@smoe.org)

Jane delivers as usual, with any number of surprising highlights. Best rush out and order this before the holiday season ends, though I'm sure I'll be listening to it year round. (neal)

although it was released last year, I didn't start listening to it until the holidays. It's a double CD filled with beautiful songs about winter and the holidays, many quite ancient and obscure, performed live by Jane and other singers and musicians in New York City. Highly recommended. (hrussell@bellsouth.net)

child is a live recording, culling tracks from four performances of seasonal music at the bottom line in new york city in 1997 (or was it 1996?). it's a mixture of traditional and contemporary songs, but most are rather obscure. as meredith pointed out, each song has been indelibly marked with jane's personality so it's a really unique collection. we were at one of the performances (the last one on the last night, if i remember correctly) and the album really brings us back—highly recommended! (woj@smoe.org)

I think enough well-deserved discussion and praise has been lavished on this album that I don't really need to say anything more about it. :) (JoAnn Whetsell)


New York Trilogy

Release info:

1999—Sheeba Records

Availability:

See Sheeba Records

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, piano, guitar

Guest artists:

Tim Ray—piano, organ
Rebecca Campbell—vocals
Catherine Russell—vocal
Lisa Lindo—vocals
Rebecca Jenkins—guest vocals on 3 tracks
Evan Richey—cello
David Travers-Smith—trumpet
Peter Kiesewalter—clarinet, sax, accordion
Dean Sharp—drums
Vinni Nobile—trombone
Debra Robinson—bass
Lisa Gutkin—violin
Debbie Knapper—guitar
Larry Baeder—guitar
Gail Ann Dorsey—bass, vocals
Phillip Brown—vocals on Child
Frank London—trumpet, piccolo trumpet, e flat horn on Child

Produced by:

Jane Siberry

Comments:

New York Trilogy is a 4-disc set consisting of "Part 1 Tree: Music for Films and Forests", Part II Lips: Music for Saying It", and Part III Child: Music for The Christmas Season" (2 discs, which was also previously released separately). These were created and recorded in the Autumn of 1996 at the Bottom Line Club.

Tree Lips Child finally arrived yesterday. Got my first listen of Tree this morning, and repeat listen this afternoon and now. The version of "Slow Tango" sounds strange to me, too choral somehow, not the way I remember it. I like most of the disc though. Brings back good memories since I was at all 4 of the concerts these were recorded from. As well as just being good music. I like the choral harmonies. Sometimes though some of the noodling around that is fun in concert can be annoying on repeated listens on a cd, but that is a minor complaint. It is a good album, and I need to listen to it more, but I can already tell it's going to be another thing I love. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Don't hate me, but these really don't leap into the cd player at all. I dunno, this particular phase of Jane's creation doesn't click that well with me. My loss, I know, and I'm saddened by it, and go load her first seven albums instead. (Neile)

Tree, the first of the New York Trilogy, is an interesting album—the kind you really want to hear once. But I don't think it will ever find its way into the CD player much—the dynamics are too varied—too quiet in most places, and overall, the album is a little too quiet—too monotonous. I expected to love "It Can't Rain all the Time", but I don't. Not that it's bad, but it's just not the transcendent live version I expected it to be.
     The second album I find to be much more fun to listen to—if for nothing else than the wild "I Will Survive", but overall, this is a much more fun album. Tree is perhaps a little too serious. Plus, I love all the song snippets used in "Say It", and the vocal arrangements really make use of the guest vocalists—something that seemed a little more awkward on Tree.
     My favorite of the New York Trilogy is still Child.
     Anyway, despite not absolutely loving the new New York Trilogy discs, I would still recommend buying them, supporting Sheeba, and doing whatever you can to help Jane get back into the studio. (jjhanson@att.net)

I haven't had a chance to listen to this a lot, but Lips has been on rotation in the car a lot lately, and I've been familiar with Child since it came out the first time. These were three amazing shows, and I'm happy to finally have a record of all of them on CD. (meth@smoe.org)


Hush

Release info:

2000—Sheeba Records—SHE008

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, piano, accordion, harmonica, harp, keyboards

Guest artists:

Sandy Baron—violin
Jennifer Weeks—oboe on 1 track

Produced by:

Siberry

Comments:

A beautiful album but one I just didn't find compelling enough to make my top 10 for the year. I'll be interested to hear what other people's reactions are. I love the cover art—Neal hates it—too much of a glamour shot for him, but I think it's a great picture, and great overall packaging—similar to Mary Lydia Ryan's Diaphanous.
     As for the music—well, very pretty and very mellow. It will take a few more listens to form a definite opinion, but while Jane's vocals arrangements are quite beautiful, this hardly demonstrates the creative genius of When I Was a Boy. I wondered who the pianist was, because while it's quite pretty, it's not up to Tim Ray's standards. Turns out it's Jane herself—she plays piano, accordion, harmonica, harp, and keyboards, as well as doing all vocals. The only other musicians are Sandy Baron on violin and Jennifer Weeks on oboe. So this album is definitely Jane at her purest, but I have to wonder if it's because she wanted to do everything herself, or she was just being cost conscious. (jjhanson@att.net)

As a long time Jane fan, I agree with your assertions here.
     All of that said, and regardless of the fact that the songs on Hush are not Jane originals, the album is a master work and a must-have. Vocally it is very pure and has an amazing layered vocal depth (with just Jane singing). "All Through the Night" and "O Shenandoah" are pieces of pure beauty.
     I would encourage everyone to pick this one up.
      Who cares if these aren't her own tunes? This is a great album with amazing vocal layers and textures. (dlw@sympatico.ca)

This has a couple of tracks which I actively enjoy. Faint praise from someone who has adored her work since I first heard No Borders Here in the early '80s, but that's how it goes. (Neile)

I know it isn't a terribly exciting collection of music, but I think it is lovely; "All Through the Night" and "Shenandoah" especially. I think it would make a good ecto children's album, at least! (excelsis@angelfire.com)


City

Release info:

2001—Sheeba Records

Availability:

See Sheeba website

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Comments:

Note: this is a collection of Jane's collaborations with other artists and includes songs scattered on such places as Hector Zazou's Songs from the Cold Seas album.

A disappointment. I just wish Jane would dump the Sheeba experiment and focus on writing some tunes again.... (dlw@sympatico.ca)


Love is Everything: An Anthology

Release info:

2002—Rhino Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Siberry beginners

Group members:

Jane Siberry—accordion, bells, guitar, harmonica, harp, keyboards, loops, organ, Hammond organ, piano, synthesizer, vocals

Guest artists:

Larry Baeder—guitar
Sandy Baron—violin
Brian Blade—drums
Teddy Borowiecki—accordion, percussion, piano
Anne Bourne—keyboards, vocals
Michael Brook—guitar
Cherie Camp—vocals
Rebecca Campbell—vocals
Al Cross—drums, linn drum, percussion
Bryant Didier—bass
Steven Donald—trombone
Gail Ann Dorsey—bass, vocals
Brian Eno—guitar effects, oboe, Hammond organ, shaker, tambo drums
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards
Dave Houghton—drums
Rebecca Jenkins—vocals
k.d. lang—vocals
Lisa Lindo—vocals
Sarah McElcheran—trumpet
Ian McLauchlan—percussion
Glenn Milchem—drums
Ben Mink—viola
Ken Myhr—dulcimer, guitar, guitar synth, percussion, vocals
James Pinker—drums
David Ramsden—vocals
Tim Ray—organ, piano
Christopher Rouse—vocals
Catherine Russell—vocals
Dean Sharp—drums
Gina Stepaniuk—vocals
John Switzer—bass, percussion, vocals
Christopher Thomas—bass
Jennifer Weeks—oboe
Doug Wilde—keyboards
Stich Wynston—drums
Rob Yale—fairlight, keyboards

Produced by:

Hillary Bratton, compilation producer

Comments:

A two-disc compilation that covers the range of Jane Siberry's albums and talents. Would be a good starting place for someone curious about her music of someone not interested in collecting all of her music. (Neile)

Dragon Dreams

by Issa

Release info:

2008—IssaLight.com—SHEISSA01

Availability:

See See Sheeba website

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Issa—piano, loops, nylon guitar, keyboards, organ, horns, drum loops, knees, claps, snaps, thumps

Guest artists:

Pauline Kim—violin, viola
Christine Kim—cello
James Roe—oboe
Carlos Beceiro (La Musgaña)—zanfona (hurdy-gurdy)
Jaime Muñoz (La Musgaña)—bagpipes, chanting
John MacArthur Ellis—electric guitar, pedal steel, background vocals, guitar
Rich Brown—bass
Niko Freisen—knees, claps, drums, snaps, thumps
Leslie Alexander—knees, claps, singing
Sounds of nature—themselves (2)
Fluffers the cat—vocals (9)
Orchid and Faithful—dogs (10)
Catherine Russell, Marlon Saunders, Gyan, Jacob Switzer, Paige Escoffery-Stewart, Ruby Salvatore Palmer, Gail Ann Dorsey, Maggie Moore, Rebecca Shoichet, Kerry Latimer (Nathan), Rae Armour, Amy Ziff (BETTY), Elizabeth Ziff (BETTY)—singing

Produced by:

Issa; additional production by John MacArthur Ellis

Comments:

I was curious to see what Issa came up with for her first real album release, and was surprised to find an album with such complexity—here are the layered vocals, the group vocal harmonies, and excellent production of When I Was a Boy, but this album has a surprisingly upbeat, positive feel, bringing some of the quirkiness of the early Jane recordings. A very pleasant surprise. (jjhanson@att.net)

I agree with Jeff. It's an odd and charming mix. I love the echoes of When I Was a Boy. I find this uneven overall (a little too much spoken word for my tastes), but definitely interesting, and of more interest to me than the last few years of her work as Jane Siberry. She's reaching for something worth stretching for, and uniquely hers. Strangely, when I pop the disc into iTunes, it's categorized as "holiday"—and that might not be wrong, but it's certainly not any holiday I'm familiar with—yet. Colour me intrigued. (Neile)


With What Shall I Keep Warm?

Release info:

2009—Sheeba—SHEISSA 02

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Issa—vocals, piano, guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, organ, loops, drum loops, keyboard trumpet/horns/clarinet/cello/harp/oboe/pipes, grouse mating call, claps

Guest artists:

John MacArthur Ellis—pedal steel, guitars, electric guitar, mandolin
Pauline Kim—violin, viola
Christine Kim—cello
James Roe—oboe
Rich Brown—bass; background vocals (1)
Niko Friesen—drums/percussion, claps
Jaime Muñoz—chants and pipes
Sheldon Zaharko—triangle (7, 11)
Lucas Teodora di Silva—trumpet (1)
Gyan, Leslie Alexander—vocals (2) Marlon Saunders—vocals (2, 3, 9)
Gail Ann Dorsey—vocals (2, 9)
Catherine Russell—vocals (3, 9), claps
Jacob Switzer, Paige Escoffery-Stewart, Ruby Salvatore Palmer, Susie Stewart, Maggie Moore, John Switzer, Alyson Palmer (BETTY), Elizabeth Ziff (BETTY), Amy Ziff (BETTY)—vocals (9)
Whoever was nearby—claps, knee-slaps

Produced by:

Issa

Comments:

I can't believe I was ever less than enthusiastic about With What Shall I Keep Warm?; few albums have ever grown on me the way that one has. (bowen@mac.com)

Meshach Dreams Back

Release info:

2011

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Jane Siberry—vocals, main guitar and piano, other instruments by way of keyboards

Guest artists:

Catherine Russell, Marlon Saunders—vocals, angels
Amy Ziff (BETTY), Alyson Palmer (BETTY), Sandy Kugelman, Jacob Switzer, Ingrid Veninger, Hallie Switzer, John Switzer, Paige Escoffery Stewart, Ruby Salvatore Palmer, Scarlet and Gracie Whitmarsh Schneider, Kristi Ambrosetti, Darren Waterston, Elaine Bradlwwwey—angels
Billy Jay Stein—horns (on keyboard) on "We Could Have Been Great Friends"
John MacArthur Ellis—guitars, pedal steel on "Imagine a World"
Rich Brown—bass on "Imagine a World"
Pauline Kim—violin, viola on "Imagine a World"
Christine Kim—cello on "Imagine a World"
Niko Friesen—drums on "Imagine a World"

Produced by:

Jane Siberry

Comments:

Jane continues to seriously break away from her old stuff, but play this album after the two previous albums in this trilogy (Dragon Dreams and With What Shall I Keep Warm?) and they add up to a pretty amazing experience, much stronger together than individually. (bowen@mac.com)

For some reason, this album has really completed the cycle for me—sure it's new agey and talky, but this album really filled out the 3-album song-cycle and is everything Jane at her best—quirky, great harmonies and multi-layered vocals. I really liked this one. (jjhanson@att.net)


Further info:

Jane Siberry has participated in numerous other projects, including (several of these appear on the City compilation):
  • David Massengill, The Return (backing vocals on a few tracks)
  • Hector Zazou, Songs from the Cold Seas ("She is Like A Swallow" Siberry song and vocals)
  • U. Srinivas and Michael Brook, Dream (Jane contributes a couple of minutes of haunting wordless vocals)
  • Winter, Fire and Snow: Songs for the Holiday Season (contributes "Are You Burning, Little Candle")
  • Until The End of the World soundtrack (contributes "Calling All Angels")
  • Count Your Blessings (a group Christmas compilation with Holly Cole, Rebecca Jenkins, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Victoria Williams, and Tim Ray, contributes vocals on several tracks and backing vocals on others)
  • The Crow soundtrack (contributes "It Can't Rain All The Time")
  • Patty Larkin, Perishable Fruit (contributes backing vocals)
  • Joe Jackson & Friends, Heaven and Hell (contributes "The Bridge")
  • A Barney cd (contributes one [or two?] tracks)
  • Festival of Lights, the Hannukah disc (contributes "Shir Amami")
  • Arcane (one of the many Realworld jam session albums—contributes "My Mother is not the White Dove")
  • Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro, a tribute to Laura Nyro (contributes an audio collage "When I think of Laura Nyro")
  • Toys soundtrack (uncredited vocals on "Happy Worker (reprise)")
  • Kumbaya 1995[?] (contributes "My Mother is not the White Dove" live with the Barenaked Ladies)
  • Kick at the Darkness: a tribute to Bruce Cockburn (contributes "A Long time love song" with Martin Tielli)
  • Faraway, So Close soundtrack (contributes "Slow Tango")
  • Indigo Girls, Swamp Ophelia (backup vocals under the pseudonym "Jane Sibery")
  • Amazing Grace benefit album (live version of "Calling All Angels")
  • The Hanging Garden soundtrack (contributes "When Spring Comes")


Thanks to Doug Burks, Neal Copperman, Chris Montville, and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2012-06-10 18:26:26.
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