So who is this Jane Sawyer anyway?
For weeks now, I have wanted to write a review that would give me the opportunity to use the word “constipated” in some creative, contextual way: this, however, is not that review. Try as one might (though I am not sure why they would), it is impossible to equate that word with this artist and/or her music.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Miss Jane Sawyer. Sawyer first arrived on the music scene in 1993 with the “pop/rock outfit,” Dick and Jane. In 1995, a win on CFOX’s “Demolisten Derby” gave the band a well-deserved career boost. But after 10 years and opening slots for acts such as Jewel and Art Bergman, the band gave up the ghost shortly after recording their third album with [4NonBlondes] producer, Mark Hensely.
After an English degree at Simon Fraser University, Sawyer re-entered the fold with a new group, tROUBLE, in 2007. Composed of Sawyer, Taylor Little (The Bughouse Five, The Payola$ – NOT the porn star), Jordie Dammet (The Hotel Lobbyists) and whoever else was free and willing when the time came, tROUBLE made a good go of it until spring of this year when Sawyer and Little parted ways. Sawyer now plays a series of solo shows and duets with, saxophonist, Max Murphy (Five Alarm Funk), and several others. Sawyer, Dammet, and Murphy will be recording together soon, with a video shoot in the works for February.
As with almost every other musician I have met in the past year, I was introduced to Sawyer by Dammet at a show a few months ago. After bumping into her at countless venues, it dawned on me that I had never heard her play. Over the past couple weeks, I’d sought to rectify that mistake.
I first catch a short set of Sawyer’s at The Coppertank, a Kitsilano mainstay for as long as this city has had mainstays it seems. The long-running, Sunday night open-mic was a fantastic venue to hear Sawyer play for the first time.
Her three song set was enough to put the hooks in you for good. If you happen to be an indie filmmaker who is looking for the perfect song for your movie about a good man, wrongly accused, who almost finds redemption while gaining almost as much as he lost, Sawyer’s your gal. Her stage presence is easygoing but not frivolous and her music is light but not shallow. She writes love songs that are about all of love’s aspects and they are delivered in such a way that you can easily tell that she is one of the few composers of love songs that actually enjoys being in love.
I catch Sawyer again the next Thursday at The Railway Club. She is playing a cozy set in the back room as part of Puddle City Arts, a series designed to “showcase some of the beautiful works that are being created behind closed doors.” After being concerned that no one would show up, Sawyer finds that it is drinking room only when she steps up to the microphone accompanied by Scott Paulley, The Awkward Stage’s most recent addition.
The set is again quite free and warmed by Sawyer’s sincere “stage charm.” When watching a show, I often look for the little, extra-personal moments on stage: moments like Maya and Becky from The Pack A.D. catching each other in a smile; Aaron Chapman of The Town Pants getting up on his toes to bring his tin whistle to the microphone; or the devilish grin on the face Graham Myrfield, bass player for The Stumblers Inn, when a hilarious one-liner is forthcoming. With Sawyer, it is a wink, always directed at someone who, if you turn to see, is already gone. The wonderful thing about the wink is that it is not the wink you get from a Hooters waitress when you order the hot wings special and 10 pitchers of beer; it is the knowing wink you give a friend when it is time to rush the hostage takers.
Female singer/songwriters often get lumped together (often by designations such as “female singer/songwriters”) but it is not entirely fair and almost always not a correct assumption. Apart from seven notes to choose from and two ovaries, Sawyer and other singer/songwriters I am personally familiar with (Val Graham, Shiloh Lindsey, Jody Glenham), can’t be considered just part of “the group.” They manage to make all the songs they play, originals and covers alike, their own creations. And though they may owe for the legacy, they can thank only themselves for their place in it, if only their modesty would allow.
You can give her a listen here: http://www.myspace.com/janesawyersongs