JANE SIBERRY: No Borders Here

The Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry, whose fascinating second album, No Borders Here, is the first to receive wide distribution, is a garage-band Laurie Anderson. She has a taste for electronics as well as a wispy voice of uncertain pitch that frequently lapses into plain old talking. her lyrics tend to be cosmic-comic vignettes about the epiphanies that occur in everyday life -- you know, the universe in a plate of spaghetti -- and in that sense she recalls quirky New Yorkers like the Roches and Christine Lavin, particularly when she sings, "I'd probably be famous now/If I wasn't such a good waitress," or skewers a guy in just two lines ("His card says executive/But it mumbles just a salesman"). She also likes to cram lots of words into short melodic lines and then complicate them furthers with tricky Eastern-ethnic rhythms, both habits that reflect the influence of fellow Canadian Bruce Cockburn.

The surprising part is that despite all her girlish folkie qualities, Siberry's basic accompaniment is a scrappy little three-piece rock band that gives her music real punch. What makes "Symmetry (The Way Things Have to Be)" amazingly catchy is not so much Siberry's delightful reverie on nervous habits as the adrenalin-pumping teamwork of Al Cross' pounding drums, John Switzer's galloping bass and Ken Myhr's memorable guitar flourishes. Like Rickie Lee Jones, Siberry likes to compose suitelike songs that change time signatures every couple of minutes, and even on the ambitious, enigmatic "Mimi on the Beach," the band stays right with her. She never hesitates to toss in weird little comments, verbal or musical -- thus the rap about grouper fish on "Extra Executives" and oblique references to the tiny Welsh towns Beddgelert and Merthyr Tydfil on "You Don't Need." She doesn't have the most forceful or distinctive voice, but her sensibility is definitely original.

Rolling Stone, 1984