I won't try to locate her in a genre, like the poor librarian who'd crossed out "popular" and written in "folk Celtic" on the copy I borrowed of Hush (2000), a covers album that ranges across American and Celtic gospel and folk songbooks. The point is, when you find out that her new album is an interpretation of centuries-old Christmas-inspired hymns, you don't ask what's she doing jumping genres to sing Handel, Bach, and Mendelssohn, and you don't get hung up trying to understand the title, Shushan the Palace (Hymns of Earth). You just thrill to the way she explores the classical songs, including less-celebrated parts of Handel's Messiah, such as "I know that my redeemer liveth," or when she takes Charles Jennens's biblical eighteenth-century lyrics, reaches for the top of her range with the climactic line "the first fruits of them that sleep," and brings rebirth itself to life again.
Jane Siberry performs at the Ark on Tuesday, December 16, singing the Shushan songs and a sampling of her own best lyrics including, her promotional material promises, "Calling All Angels."
[Originally published in December, 2003.]