What does it sound like?:
Janis Ian is one of the all too many artists I’ve rather lost touch with over the passing of the years. During her 1970’s heyday, with albums such as Stars, Between The Lines and Night Rains, her wistful voice often graced my turntable late of an evening in a fug of wine and cigarette smoke. As time moved on however, she rather dropped off my radar. The next time I recall hearing her was almost thirty years later, when I became aware of her 2006 album, Folk Is The New Black, which signalled both a return to the spotlight and something of a return to form.
This two cd set is the first compilation to takes its material from all her various labels, from her 1967 Verve debut, through the better known Columbia years and on to to her own Rude Girl label. I still think though that the best days for this singer songwriter came with her 1970’s material, with perennials like Stars and the evergreen At Seventeen. I don’t think the later material reaches the same high standards, pleasant listening though it is, or maybe my own tastes have changed over the years. Of this latter period, 2006’s Danger Danger stands out head and shoulders above the rest. I could have done with a few less duets, presumably included to round them all up together in one place from their various disparate sources, and I would also have preferred studio rather than live versions of some of the songs on the second disc. These are small gripes really though, as this career retrospective has been very well thought out and put together overall. A welcome and long overdue comprehensive reissue program of her classic Columbia albums is set to begin next year.
What does it all *mean*?
This is a very comprehensive round up of a career now spanning fifty years. There are some real gems to be heard here, especially on the first disc, but you do have to be prepared to sift through quite a lot of rather similar sounding material to find them.
Goes well with…
Listening to music alone, with a glass of wine and the lights out.
Might suit people who like…
Singer songwriters, Joni Mitchell, Judy Sill, etc.