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July 28 - August 4, 2000

[Music Reviews]

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*** Janis Ian


(Windham Hill)

Ian was winning Grammys with her combination of folk, country, and popular music before most of today's "chick singers" were born. Thirteen years ago, she relocated to Nashville, an unexpected move for a cerebral Jewish lesbian from New York with an FBI dossier five inches thick, but it proved to be productive. Ian's been writing mainstream country tunes of late, and her coming-out album, Breaking Silence, produced unexpected hits for other artists -- "What About Love" for Amy Grant and "Some People's Lives" for Bette Midler.

God and the FBI, her 17th recording, is packed with a dark humor that she's seldom exhibited before. The funky title track, which could be a club hit with a slight remix, details her life under the microscope of the FBI. Her sin? Parents who had African-American friends, which was considered subversive in the 1950s. There's also "Memphis," a love letter to Southern living delivered as a duet with Willie Nelson, and the Dixie-fried grit of "Joline" (not the Dolly Parton hit but an Ian original) and "Play like a Girl," both of which owe as much to Memphis as they do to Nashville.

-- J. Poet
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