Jane - Seedling
Following on from the review of Jane's debut album, Close Up And Real, comes one of her second album, Seedling and the difference between the two could not be clearer. With inlay art and a cover that recalls Throwing Muses' House Tornado - scratchy paintings of various forms of womanhood - the impression is of a more political work that tries hard to avoid the demo work of its predecessor.
But if the artwork does make you think of Throwing Muses' second album, though how many people have actually heard or bought House Tornado, then the music is far from that on Kristin Hersh's most difficult album, being simply an improvement on Close Up And Real rather than a departure from Jane's existing sound.
Seedling is, however, clearly a better album than Close Up And Real from its very first minute with the sound of a blues harp that's not dissimilar to the one that opens Cowboy Junkies' The Caution Horses. That sound only heralds a richness to the album that flashes occasionally but which is always welcome, particularly on songs like Daddy, Showdown (Waiting For A Sign) and Never To Blame.
Of course, much of what makes Seedling an improvement on Close Up And Real is that, in addition to a more natural sound that appears to have been arrived at through rehearsals and relaxed writing sessions, it's also a shorter album, coming in at around 38 minutes and ten songs. Whilst not saying that less music from Jane is a blessing, it's more that Seedling has a more direct impact with there being less fat than Close Up And Real. There is, however, much the same sound on Seedling as on the album that preceded it, particularly in its use of a big, rock sound, exemplified by the manner in which the guitar solo on Show Me Where The Lonely People Go comes in, as though the bunch of hip-hop, dance and alt-rock that burst into the charts over the last sixteen years never happened. But each song builds more confidently on Seedling than they did on Close Up And Real and if half of the ten songs here open with fairly dull rock, they end with a flourish.
This is only Jane's second album, released earlier in 2004, but if she can open her sound up a little more and bring a more natural or even slower pace to her songs, her third album could get close to the places visited by the Cowboy Junkies, Suzanne Vega (the early years) or Hope Sandoval.
As with Close Up And Real, this album is available both at CD-WOW as well as from Jane's website - janemusic.info.