Two ladies of unconventional appearance triumph over adversity and release their third album, Skirt, on their own label. Stuff of legend?
Well, no. Despite being recorded in a Sunday school and despite featuring Billy Bragg, BJ Cole, Syd Straw and Ian McLagan, Skirt is a record of inoccuous, harmless music which washes over the listener but leaves scarcely a trace of its presence afterwards.
Obvious comparisons with Indigo Girls are fine up to a point. Yes, there are two women, both of whom sing. And… that’s it. There’s a greater use of electronica on Skirt than you’d find on the average record by Amy and Emily, acoustic hicksville mainstays that they are. It works too, especially on Skinning, which surprisingly picks up the otherwise meandering pace of this record in a rather welcome fashion.
Babs and Gilly have been away for five years, after contractual wrangles and a parting of ways with their previous label, Geffen, and their manager. That they’re back at all is something like a triumph, but Skirt doesn’t seem to have a central focus to it and the lyrics are almost unintelligible – or meaningless – throughout much of it, lessening the glow of their achievement.
As an opener, Drink on Hallelujahs drones. But with the exception of Skinning, much of what follows is entirely unmemorable – even after several listens. As Ginny says, Skirt is a “depressive record” – but only because the talent and experience of The Dear Janes doesn’t here seem to have been much use to them.