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Between the Lines

Janis Ian

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Album Review

This is Janis Ian's second album from her re-emergence in the early to mid-'70s as one of the genre's most inspired and original singer/songwriters. While this title houses Ian's biggest international hit, the confessional "At Seventeen," the entire effort combines her honest and confessional lyrics with an equally engaging blend of pop/rock and definite jazz and blues. She assembled much of the same ensemble that had worked on her previous long-player, Stars (1975), and much of the material retains the same warmth and intimacy in both her craft as well as the presentation. Unlike the more somber and introverted tracks that dominate Between the Lines (1975), the disc commences with a prime example of Ian's infectious coziness on the light and airy "When the Party's Over." This is one of the title's more straightforward love songs and features an appropriately lilting counter-harmony from Dennis Pereca. More typical are the somewhat dark and oblique "From Me to You," "The Come On," and the despairing title track. Darker still are "In the Winter" and the abject loneliness of "Tea and Sympathy" — both of which feature some engaging arrangements courtesy of famed arranger/conductor Ron Frangipane, whose clients include Melanie and Townes Van Zandt as well as both John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Underlying the heady orchestration and truly at the center of Ian's skill are her emotively powerful yet reserved melodies. This was undoubtedly a factor in "At Seventeen" becoming a Grammy winner as well as a chart-topping single stateside and a Top 20 hit throughout much of Europe as well as more disparate locations such as Israel. The strength of material and public interest garnered by Between the Lines would continue on her next equally powerful long-player, Aftertones (1976). This album is a recommended starting point for potential enthusiasts, as well as a touchstone to be repeatedly revisited.

Customer Reviews

Extraordinary achievement

Janis Ian's hauntingly beautiful lyric is equalled by a perfect balanced performance by the musicians. Rarely does pop music venture anywhere to the truth as the masterpiece of songwriting does.

Biography

Born: April 07, 1951 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A singer/songwriter both celebrated and decried for her pointed handling of taboo topics, Janis Ian enjoyed one of the more remarkable second acts in music history. After first finding success as a teen, her career slumped, only to enter a commercial resurgence almost a decade later. Janis Eddy Fink was born on May 7, 1951, in New York City. The child of a music teacher, she studied piano as a child and, drawing influence from Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, and Odetta, wrote her first songs at the age...
Full bio

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