Janis Ian
God and the FBI
Windham Hill

cd cover State executions. anti-Semitism. Racial segregation. Book burnings. War. Government surveillance and terrorization of civilians. Black listings. A growing fear of worse to come. Germany in the 1940s? Yes. These symptoms just as accurately fit the USA of the following decade, when a fascist USA seemed a very real prospect.

You wouldn't know that from listening to the nostalgic exercises of Billy Joel or Don McLean's Fifties. Janis Ian is out to set the historical record straight with the song "God and the FBI." Set to a bouncy riff which echoes both Joel and McLean, but without their coy, obscure references, she lays it on the line: "Hide me, hide you, better hide the baby too / We demand an interview, how long have you been a Jew? / We can make you testify, freedom is no alibi."

Famous for "Society's Child" way back when, Janis Ian has been around and knows of what she sings. That includes the nightmare of the Amerika of her childhood and the personal heartbreak of her sisters and brothers today, adrift in a world where love is scarce, as she portrays it in "She Must Be Beautiful" and "Days Like These." She comes out swinging and proud in "Play Like a Girl" and "Murdering Stravinsky.".

Witty, sharp songwriting, clear vocals are supported by a fine danceable backup band. This is a long overdue, mature and edgy pop recording. - Bill Nevins

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