Jane – Close Up and Real (CD)

Coming off as a less Christian Crystal Lewis, Jane performs a very innocuous type of pop music that owes more to The Carpenters and Shania Twain than Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. While Jane does play acoustic guitar, another ten people join into the mix, but each individual (at least those who play instruments) sounds more like a program function of Cakewalk than an actual human being. Take the five-minute “Come What May”, which owes a lot of its repetitive nature to its robotic drums and guitar. A lot in the way of individuality is regained with the follow-up track “Borderline”, not a cover of the Madonna song, but a Stevie Nicks and Cyndi Lauper-influenced track. A violin threads its way through the track in ways that no program could, and it is due to this and the heart-felt lyrics of Jane that this track actually gets its feet.

Each track follows the same path in the terms of music, throwing something in the way of audible geegaws every few songs so the mix doesn’t get too stale. Don’t get me wrong – this CD is no more vapid than anything either on Clearchannel-dominated pop or country radio. The tracks each have a hook installed in them to affix themselves to one’s brain, and a chorus like that found in “One Voice” will not easily be disposed. The musicianship on each of the tracks isn’t gash, and it isn’t performed by a virtuoso – thus, we are more often than not nodding our head to the track, all the while ignoring the musicians on the track for the much more individualistic voice of Jane. The remix of “The Cauliflower Song”, much more radio-friendly than the original, is a high-water mark of the CD, really moving before the slightly canned sound of the rest of the CD to launch itself into something that could conceivably be heard on popular radio.

If we look close up at “Close Up and Real”, we really notice a great number of influences that go in to each song. While the general sound of the disc is narrow in terms of comparison to other forms of music, it really is diverse in the sense of the range it has in its’ own style of popular music. What really seems weird to say, but is completely true, is the amount of influence that Jane draws from the time signatures of mid-80s metal music – especially in the track “Be My Star”. In this, images of the Scorpions are evoked and the track is just a testament to the aforementioned point – that Jane is operating under a narrow spectrum with the most broad of influences.

Top Tracks : Be My Star, Borderline

Rating: 6.6/10

Jane – Close Up and Real / 16 Tracks / 2003 Tomboy Music Group / http://www.janemusic.info / Released January 2003 / Reviewed 25 February 2004

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