Take a cattle rancher’s daughter from the West Coast of the US, add university degrees in literature and music, transplant her to New England and you’ll end up with a singer/songwriter with a unique musical voice. Influenced by Jane’s background in traditional country, Appalachian folk and Gospel music and nurtured by the Boston folk scene, City Girl is a collection of well-crafted, literate songs of love – found, lost, and remembered.
The title track, “City Girl”, uses vivid imagery to relate the oft-told story of youthful migration from country to city: “She loves the smell of the new-mown hay but figures she’ll be on her way. Sure as the sun sets in the West, sure as the red dust swirls, deep in her heart she knows she’s a city girl.”
The tribute to things country continues in the lovely waltz, “Time After Time” as the lyrics overflow with nostalgia for the past but appreciation of the new as the “past it unwinds into soft, silver twilight” of memories with “the long, long ago blending like water and wine with the here and the now.”
Most of all, the tribute to her Dad makes a tongue- in- cheek contrast between cowboy wannabe’s and the real thing in “He Deserves The Hat.”
Finally “Somewhere West of Boise” chronicles a trip home to a high-school reunion that accurately portrays the tentative ambivalence of visiting that place where we are “always seventeen.”
Jane’s literature background can be seen in the lyrical balled “His Face” which retells an ancient myth, and “Lover’s Hell” which borrows from Shakespeare’s “Othello” for the recurring tragic refrain that sympathizes with those “who love not wisely but too well.”
A beautiful acoustic guitar/vocal arrangement (by Steve Rapson) of the traditional “The Water is Wide” is a nod to her folk roots, while the jazzy, upbeat “Forbidden Fruit” winks an eye at original sin and temptation as portrayed in the story of Adam and Eve: “Eve was a girl who could be tempted – too bad it wasn’t tax-exempted.”
Wrapping up the album, “The Right Road” is a deceptively upbeat tune with a downbeat message, “If It Mattered” a sweet ballad that is a mother-lode of figurative language, and “Whichever Way The Wind Blows” a country rocker that sends a cheatin’ man packing!
In addition, the CD has 3 bonus tracks that were recorded live and are humorous takes on eating bugs, ignoring the environment, and learning to golf.
City Girl was produced by Seth Connelly who produced Lori McKenna’s first CD and features the talents of Steve Sadler on Dobro, Leo Egan on pedal steel, Valerie Thompson on cello, Steve Gilligan on bass, and Doug Boutchard on drums as well as Seth Connelly on piano, guitar, and bass. Jon Swenson and Phil Knudsen add harmony vocals.