Some artists pull on our nostalgic heartstrings to reel us in, and then there are artists who genuinely seem an echo of an earlier era, born perhaps out of time. For a while, you couldn’t move for artists trying to sound like Dusty Springfield (and, of course, never quite getting there) or Bob Dylan (ditto), but Jane Allison is undoubtedly not one of those. For all the 60’s vibe that runs through her music, there is never any sense of plagiarism, plundering, or merely revisiting past glories. Instead, she at once sounds like an artist of the here-and-now and one that could easily have been setting alight the Greenwich Village coffee house scene of the late ’60s, a contemporary of Joan Baez, Tim Buckley and Judy Collins.
Frayed, the new single from Like Magdelene, an album which received praise from industry pundits and discerning music fans alike, is a perfect example of her ability to stand with one foot in both past and present. And it has nothing to do with anything as obvious as just trying to sound like those times; it is more a vibe, a sense, a feeling. One built of slightly shaded chamber-pop moves and alternative folk grooves. Of sumptuous harmonies and lush production qualities. A sound that is both way behind current musical fashion and so far ahead of the curve.
It is a song built on tension and anticipation, edge and atmosphere, a sweet blend of darkness and light, delicacy and drive, groove and grace of melody and just enough musical muscle to take the song beyond merely pop or folk realms and into the world that the likes of Nico built around herself to such great effect.
Jane Allison is an artist who inhabits her own unique world, one that seems to stretch back into the past and stride into the future, a world where genres are fluid concepts and generic demarcations are there to be neatly stepped over—a world where fad and fashion are far too transient concepts to be caught up in.
It’s a world that you are going to love, and Frayed is all you need to find your way there.