*** Janis Ian
GOD AND THE FBI
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