Jane Siberry at Zankel Hall

Aquarian Weekly 3/22/06

GLIDING THROUGH THE ETHERJANE SIBERRYZANKEL HALL 3/11/06New York, New York

Jane SiberryEmerging out of the winged shadows like a Beat diva from the fog of Warholian lore, accompanied by the strains of pre-recorded strings and the faint echo of birds, singer/songwriter, Jane Siberry settled into 90 minutes of free-form poetry, a cappella yearnings, an engagingly dry wit, and an eclectic spectrum of song styling which seemed oddly comfortable in the Broadway surroundings. As a storyteller, Siberry has few peers, as a poet she floats random association headfirst into a post-modern cul de sac, but as a songstress, and most chillingly, as a vocalist, she is one of the finest I have ever seen.

Alone on piano and acoustic guitar for most of the performance, Siberry deftly, almost too comfortably, commanded the auditorium as if she were literally born in mid-lyric. Her expression as art, body and soul, is astounding to witness, as esoteric as a sixties drifter and as elegant as a pre-war siren. Confronted by the sweet caress of the melodies, woven with dissonant jazz chords and vicious key changes, it is not hard to fit her songs, or her supple voice, into any era, any genre. Even the drawing of her breath pulses in key.

The intimate surroundings of Zankel Hall, and its rapt audience, framed the perfect canvas for the willowy Siberry, who demurely announced during several encores that she is championing a new way to sell her music: an on-line “self-determined” pricing of her 10-plus CD catalogue, including live recordings. “I am restless to reduce the abyss between the audience and the artist,” she gleefully announced amid cheers.

The set, partially and beautifully, backed up by a quartet of violin, cello, French horn, and oboe, illustrated the point perfectly. Each song – strike that – each note was presented with the utmost care and attention to detail. The ensemble buoyed such goose-bump inducing numbers as “You Don’t Need”, “I Paddle My Canoe”, the wonderfully moving, “In My Dream”, and the brilliant, “Love is Everything”.

Siberry, the consummate composer with a unique reverence for the spoken word and a subtly to emote, adroitly eschews the pretension of the eccentric artist for the transparent minstrel: songs as parables, poems as mirrors.

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