Jane - Close Up And Real
There's something that's almost noble about what musicians do when they realise that their moment has passed. When Jim Morrison was gone to fat and The Doors were being critically mauled having released The Soft Parade, it was a surprise when they pulled their greatest album, 1971's L.A. Woman, out of the bag. Similarly, when Iggy Pop was living rough in London having seen The Stooges crumble apart, who'd have thought that he'd had The Idiot and Lust For Life left inside him. And after decades of intermittent moments of glory, the then-wearing of a mullet and playing a guitar without a headstock on it, Lou Reed's New York was a startling return to form.
Whilst it would be flattering Jane too much to compare it directly to L.A. Woman, Lust For Life or New York, it does bear the mark of a singer/songwriter who believes that she has had her one chance at making it and is now more relaxed in writing and recording music for what sounds like her alone. Her website - janemusic.info - certainly implies as much, with a gallery full of images in which Jane, wearing rock chick leather and lace, is dressed for a career that never was.
As such, Jane, who is now not a professional musician, recorded Close Up And Real in 2002, has put together an album of seventeen songs that range from the honest and pretty Borderline, Breathe (It Might Be Love) and Carry Me to the likes of The Cauliflower Song, which might be considered sureally cool were it recorded by Beefheart but comes over as the worst song title I've ever heard when included here. Throughout the album, a set of session musicians bring the songs out of Jane's writings but, like the music it bears closest comparison to, Close Up And Real is wonderfully played but is ultimately lacking in passion. What this album shares with the likes of those recorded by Clapton, Collins and Stewart is the sense of it all being very pleasant and, well, nice but without any lasting impact. Come What May, taking only one song, is hugely appealing but let an hour or two pass and it's hard to remember what made it so good.
There is, however, a degree of humility behind the making of this album, as Jane explains on her liner notes, "In the grand scheme of things, being a musician isn't that important...I've never considered myself to be a 'proper' vocalist and so am always delighted when I learn people enjoy my singing." Like anyone who has put something out in the public for the first time, Jane surely is surprised to find that people appreciate her work but she needn't be - there's no reason this album did not find more support from the likes of Radio 2 - that being old, Wogan-run Radio 2 and not the Maconie, Ross and Radcliffe upstart Radio 2.