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One weird Canadian

Love Is Everything: The Jane Siberry Anthology
Love Is Everything: The Jane Siberry Anthology
By Jane Siberry

Rhino Records: 2002

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This review first appeared in the Autumn 2002 issue of Turbula.

What to make of Jane Siberry? She's far too melodic, too accessible to be one of those art music types. But she's also way too experimental to ever find a home on the radio.

In the above, Siberry isn't so different from Kate Bush or Roxy Music: She serenely melds a free-ranging exploratory nature with as lush and gorgeous a sound as anyone in pop music has ever had.

And so while the music on Rhino's new two-disc anthology of Siberry's two-decade-long career (so far) contains some of the most beautiful songs you'll ever hear in this life, unless you're already a fan it's unlikely that you've ever encountered them before.

But be warned – this isn't some bubbly greatest-hits collection. In the middle of all this thick, luscious wall-of-sound aural velvet is some of the quirkiest material this side of Yoko Ono. "Peony" has phone messages to and from Siberry and her friends and Microsoft(!) laid over a background of horse hooves clopping along, humming, a train, a banjo plucking out "Oh Susanna" and lord knows what else.

Still, just when you're thinking that she's awfully damn weird for a Canadian, along comes "Mimi on the Beach" – one of the most perfect pop songs ever recorded. Wondrously paced, anchored with a hypnotic little beat, and illuminated by Siberry's crystalline vocals.

Getting to hear her "Map of the World" four-part suite in one sitting is also a more-than-pleasant benefit of this collection; the original versions of this suite were split over several albums. Here they're presented in order, to be listened to as a single work.

As to how the song "Symmetry" could have been overlooked in this collection, that's a tough one. Sure, no two people will ever agree on which songs to include in an anthology. But "Symmetry" is the quintessential Siberry song – bright and bubbly with a deep sense of irony, coupled to clever word play. Sigh.

Rhino Records' usual production standards are at work here – gorgeous packaging, informative booklet, top-flight sound quality.

Whether a fan or just curious, "Love Is Everything" is a strong condensation of Siberry's always-intriguing career.