Jane Bom-Bane,
Round-a-way Wrong Songs
(independent, 1995; 2004)

The playfulness and self-mockery in the 13 tunes on Jane Bom-Bane's Round-a-way Wrong Songs bring a pub or cabaret to your stereo.

From the first track, "Round-a-way Wrong Song," through "I've Lost My Sheen," it's clear that Bom-Bane is intent on turning treacherous shoals of dating into a playground. Despite lyrics like "Now I hover where roads meet and treat the empty air/I fall into an aimlessness and wonder why I'm there," the album counters emotional honesty with giddy throwaway lyrics. But Bom-Bane continually distances her pain by making her confessions -- one might even say neediness -- both witty and flippant. "It's not that I'm unfair, nor that I don't care/But too much talk of hardship interferes with my sleep." Only someone with a heart could write a line like that.

The tunes also keep the emotions distant. These songs are an eccentric lot, and the harmonium gives those risque ditties a nostalgic feel. Sometimes they are mixed with Gaelic harmonies, which make Bom-Bane sound like Enya on steroids or PDQ Bach doing cabaret. There's a lot of winking fun. Lyrical and musical contra-juxtapositions are everywhere. For instance, the plaintive faux-Gaelic wail in "Yob" is an-joke that works well with the flamenco-esque "Boy." Both take lack of communication in relationships as something of an adventure, but "Yob" shows the confusion that comes when a lover reawakens from such a relationship. In "No" and "I Wish I Knew," Bom-Bane uses -- or pushes -- motet-like chord changes that makes her wittiness a kind of double-edged sword.

On the one hand, she is a songwriter who explores desperation, confusion and angst very honestly. These songs have angst to burn. Unfortunately, her wit burns out all the angst. This is recommended for those who can laugh at themselves and who like exploring and playing with music styles. It's definitely not for those who like their angst straight and their musical stylings pure.

Other performers include Leigh Jostins on clarinet, Martin Hughes on percussion, Andy Astle on tiple.

by Carole McDonnell
25 March 2006

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