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Working Without a Net (Live)

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Album Review

With no more than a guitar and a song, Janis Ian's live set probably strikes the average listener as typical folk music. Technically speaking, however, Ian arrived on the scene just as the folk revival was burning out in the mid-'60s, and she can more properly be seen as a singer/songwriter. Some confusion undoubtedly existed thanks to "Society's Child," a socially conscious piece about an interracial couple that was originally recorded for the politically astute Broadside. Ian's vision has always combined the personal with the political, though, and there's probably no better place to enjoy an overview of her work than on Live: Working Without a Net. Spread out over two discs, the live set includes a healthy list of songs old and new, and plenty of in-between chatter to add a personal touch. In an acoustic setting, "Society's Child" sounds much closer to its original incarnation on Broadside than the recording that became a hit in 1966. She revisits the poignant "Jesse" from the early '70s, delivers a fine version of "At Seventeen," and offers good takes on recent favorites like "Breaking Silence." Ian still retains the vocal quiver that makes these emotionally bare songs so personal, rendering them much more real than even typical singer/songwriter material. In case this all sounds a bit serious, or the type of music that only sensitive women would enjoy, one needs to stick around for Ian's ad-libbed version of "These Boots Are Made for Walking." Live: Working Without a Net probably lacks the sharpness of many of Ian's studio efforts, but will be warmly welcomed by longtime fans. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi


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...
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Working Without a Net (Live), Janis Ian
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