Jane Siberry,
(Sheeba, 2000)

Though Jane Siberry is not a folksinger, she has recorded a collection of traditional songs from the United Kingdom and United States. Siberry has a slow, mellow voice and the sense of intimacy she creates on each piece accentuates the quality of her singing.

Her renditions of "The Banks of Pontchartrain," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "Streets of Laredo" and "As I Roved Out" are arranged with a more ethereal feel than many traditional versions, but bring out the emotions they contain none the less.

Particularly beautiful are "All Through the Night" and "The Water is Wide." The former is a soothing lullaby played with piano and an old harp brought from Wales many years ago to Canada, but was unable to hold its tuning due to the weather and so went unplayed for years. The latter is the least depressing version of this song I have come across. Using a slightly different set of verses, it ends with the couple loving each other until death, but being separated by distance (instead of the usual spurned-lover variation).

"False, False Fly" is a highlight of the album and the only fast tempoed song on it. A traditional riddle song, it has a young girl being asked a series of questions by a fly who is the devil in disguise.

The final track "Shenandoah/Sail Away" has a flowing rhythm, mimicking the movement of water. It is a lovely end to the album.

My only complaint is that Siberry uses the same tempo and stylised arrangement on most of the songs, making them sound like one long song instead of individual pieces. Though it is lovely, there are limits and you probably wouldn't want to listen to it too many times in a row. Listening to it at intervals, it is a pleasant break from albums with stronger bass sections.

The album is smooth and mellow. Siberry's reworkings of the old songs are lovingly produced and the significance of each to her is explained in the liner notes. Many of these songs will have significance to listeners as well and hearing them sung with such tenderness will bring back fond memories. At times ethereal, at times haunting, at times a little bit spacey-sounding, always she sings with love and that makes the album a terrific choice to listen to, relax and remember.

- Rambles
written by Jean Emma Price
published 9 October 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.