INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire SEPTEMBER 1993 - by Jonathan Romney
JANE SIBERRY: WHEN I WAS A BOY
Canada's most astrally-inclined artist, Jane Siberry is the most convincing apologia I know for metaphysics in pop. With a startled-heron demeanour and a voice that constantly quavers on the edge of a leap into the ecstatic beyond (or is it just plain tetchiness?) she's flirted with space-girl preciousness. But these days she's reined in her former operatic excesses - no more of the multi-layered mini-songcycles whose protagonists were wont t o metamorphose into canoes and tables at the flip of a metaphor. Having steered her curious muse through the quasi-country vignettes of her last album Bound By The Beauty, she's up there with the angels again, and to the best effect yet.
Accompanying her on this latest foray is Brian Eno, producing one track, co-producing another. But the opening Temple, which takes a groove cue from his own Nerve Net, is only a keynote setter for a very idiosyncratic collection. Temple is one of the few tracks which finds Siberry's distracted reticence backed up with a pugnacious dance beat, to persuasive effect. Elsewhere, the tone is hymnal, and played with such tender reserve that any sense of feyness, or churchiness even, is swept aside. But the tone is definitely angelic, with the lyrics fracturing into a series of philosophical dialogues about love, loss and the sublime - tempered by sudden bouts of waspish interrogation, as on Love Is Everything: "You're chickening out, aren't you?"
Siberry is probably the last artist who could apply this level of seriousness to what seem t o be unequivocal I Believe In Love messages - playing them so straight that the meaning seems to dissolve into a generalised level of ecstasy. Sublime is a word that should be scourged mercilessly from pop discourse - except here, where it sneaks in with blinding grace.