Sarah Partridge

Bright Lights and Promises: Redefining Janis Ian

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Barry Bassis, CodecPrime

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Jazz singer Sarah Partridge came up with inspired idea to record an album of songs by Janis Ian. Many jazz artists have performed Joni Mitchell songs but Ian (who burst on the scene at age 14 with "Society's Child" in 1966) has been overlooked by the jazz world. The Partridge and Ian are so compatible that they even co-composed two of the songs on the CD.

"A Quarter Past Heartache" is an up tempo kiss-off song, in which the singer happily notes that since her ex-lover left town, the toilet seat is always down. The other song they co-wrote, "Somebody's Child," expresses concern for the homeless, but Ian's songs have often concerned social issues.

"Society's Child" is radically changed in an arrangement by drummer Tim Horner, who also arranged "At Seventeen." The other inventive arrangements are by pianist Allen Farnham.

"Forever and a Day," a gentle love song which has never been recorded before, should be a jazz standard. "Matthew" (which has justifiably been compared to "Strange Fruit") is a searing remembrance of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard.

Partridge really wails on "Belle of the Blues" and swings on "Silly Habits." Strangely, she doesn't sing "Stars," the one Ian song that jazz artists such as Nina Simone have sung. Maybe "Bright Lights and Promises" will get a deserved sequel.






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