Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Ambient, beautiful & fierce, ethereal, eclectic, experimental, performance art, mainstream pop, alternative pop
Debut release, With What Shall I Keep Warm? (2009)
Issa's MySpace page
The Ectophile's Guide entry for Issa's former incarnation, Jane Siberry
Issa's work as Jane Siberry
This is the artist who formerly performed as Jane Siberry's new incarnation as Issa. Her sound seems to be even more eclectic. She's taking an interesting musical path melding electronic with acoustic with world with jazz with ambient with a strong New Age/World spiritual bent to the lyrics. (Neile)
Comments about live performance:
My first concert since moving to North Carolina was at the Carolina Arts Centre, an intimate venue in a small town shopping center.
Issa's look reminded me of Jane's '80s look, and the music did too, in a way, in the sort of loose, almost formless songs like "The Bird in the Gravel," unconventional songs that you listen to with no idea where they were going next. The new songs are kind of like that, but also in the vein of the songs from the New York Trilogy shows/albums. The songs incorporated animal sounds (birds, dogs; there was a moose in one song, but she might not have 'sounded' it), conversations, phone calls. They ranged from funny to thought-provoking ("Children, what do you need to feel safe" was a line in a song inspired by teens who hung out at a bus shelter in an English village; "Even as we fall from grace, grace shall lift us up and teach us our power" was a line from another song) to poignant ("Mama, let us agree to disagree, my life is fine and you can be free" was the chorus of one song, inexact wording). And there was some weirdness thrown in too. But Issa was mesmerizing.
Her performance was quite theatrical; her body movements and facial expressions. It's hard to imagine how these songs would translate to a CD. Her voice is as beautiful as ever. Tim's piano is as fantastic as ever. He also played a small keyboard that sat on top of the grand piano, adding to the theatricality of the night with flute and organ sounds, deep basses, and royal brass (for the song "When We Are Queen").
There was one break, and Tim started the second set with a beautiful piano solo that ended with "The Valley."
It was the smallest and quietest audience I'd experienced, probably about 45 people. A clearly appreciative audience. I don't think she's come too near here before, so long-time fans were absolutely thrilled to have her. "Graced," one woman put it.
All in all, a wonderful night. I highly highly recommend you catch an upcoming show if you can. I can't say that I entirely like this new direction, but I find it fascinating, especially live. It's an experience. (10/07, JoAnn Whetsell)
Recommended first album:
See Issa's site
Issa—piano, loops, nylon guitar, keyboards, organ, horns, drum loops, knees, claps, snaps, thumps
Pauline Kim—violin, viola
Carlos Beceiro (La Musgaña)—zanfona (hurdy-gurdy)
Jaime Muñoz (La Musgaña)—bagpipes, chanting
John MacArthur Ellis—electric guitar, pedal steel, background vocals, guitar
Niko Freisen—knees, claps, drums, snaps, thumps
Leslie Alexander—knees, claps, singing
Sounds of nature—themselves (2)
Fluffers the cat—vocals (9)
Orchid and Faithful—dogs (10)
Catherine Russell, Marlon Saunders, Gyan, Jacob Switzer, Paige Escoffery-Stewart, Ruby Salvatore Palmer, Gail Ann Dorsey, Maggie Moore, Rebecca Shoichet, Kerry Latimer (Nathan), Rae Armour, Amy Ziff (BETTY), Elizabeth Ziff (BETTY)—singing
Issa; additional production by John MacArthur Ellis
I was curious to see what Issa came up with for her first real album release, and was surprised to find an album with such complexity—here are the layered vocals, the group vocal harmonies, and excellent production of When I Was a Boy, but this album has a surprisingly upbeat, positive feel, bringing some of the quirkiness of the early Jane recordings. A very pleasant surprise. (email@example.com)
I agree with Jeff. It's an odd and charming mix. I love the echoes of When I Was a Boy. I find this uneven overall (a little too much spoken word for my tastes), but definitely interesting, and of more interest to me than the last few years of her work as Jane Siberry. She's reaching for something worth stretching for, and uniquely hers. Strangely, when I pop the disc into iTunes, it's categorized as "holiday"—and that might not be wrong, but it's certainly not any holiday I'm familiar with—yet. Colour me intrigued. (Neile)
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.