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Festival Records
Pop/Rock, Psychedelic, Singer/Songwriter, Folk-Rock, Pop

Album Review

Singer/songwriter Janis Ian followed up her understated masterwork Aftertones (1976) with this long-player, which includes some equally engaging and varied material. Although she'd eventually return to using studio heavies for the remainder of her '70s and early-'80s output, Miracle Row (1977) prominently features Ian's touring band, which highlights the respective talents of Claire Bay (vocals), and a power trio of Jeff Layton (bass/horns/horn arrangements), Stu Woods (bass), and Barry Lazarowitz (drums/percussion). Each of the musicians were themselves recording session stalwarts and had interacted with the artist in various capacities for several years. Never one to shy away from controversial or blatant social observations, "Party Lights" is one of Ian's more personal exposés, dealing with the drug-fuelled Jekyll and Hyde decadence of the mid-to-late '70s. The melody is penetrating with a sense of foreboding drama, which is evident musically as well as lyrically. "Miracle Row"/ "Maria" adopts a lilting tropical air behind some of Ian's most affective contributions on the album and deal, although somewhat obliquely, with her own sexuality. These introspective themes are carried into the stark and harrowing "Sunset Of Your Life" -- which confronts the fear and uncertainty of aging with a refreshingly honest poignancy. These decidedly serious themes are contrasted by the up-tempo, funky "Let Me Be Lonely," and the jazz fusion-riddled "Take To The Sky." As the easy-going "I Want To Make You Love Me" -- featuring some nice harmonies from Bay -- as well as the intimacy of "Candlelight" reveal, Ian had not lost her knack for lovely, simple, and otherwise unencumbered tunes. In fact, it is her blend of affective words and catchy melodies that sent the Spanish-flavored "Will You Dance" to the top of the singles chart in Japan -- where it remained for the better part of three months, eventually sending the album into the realm of six-figure sales and platinum status. Ian admits that the drugged insanity of the music biz and many of its' concurrent denizens were ultimately behind the split-up of the tight combo featured on "Miracle Row." Her self-titled follow-up would continue the jazzy leanings hinted at here, and she would return to the heavyweight talents of Ron Carter (bass), Richard Davis (bass), and Steve Gadd (drums).
Lindsay Planer, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Party Lights
  2. I Want to Make You Love Me
  3. Sunset of Your Life
  4. Take to the Sky
  5. Candlelight
  6. Let Me Be Lonely
  7. Slow Dance Romance
  8. Will You Dance?
  9. I'll Cry Tonight
  10. Miracle Row/Maria