Janis Ian first appeared on the music scene as a preternaturally mature thirteen-year-old singing “Society’s Child,” a tale of an inter-racial romance that was swiftly banned on radio stations due to its perceived incendiary content. During the 1970s Ian gained iconic status for “At Seventeen,” a teen coming- of-age story told from the perspective of the high-school “ugly duckling” outsider, and its album Between The Lines struck gold and Grammy accolades in 1975.
It’s an extraordinary achievement. Ian not only wrote the music and lyrics, she arranged and scored many of the tracks. The songs are moody and reflective, casting light and shadows on themes of desire, hard knocks, and reconciliation. Highlights besides the title track include the longing and lingering mistrust of “The Come On” and the epilog of a breakup of “In the Winter.” Between the Lines has been tenderly remastered for LP and gold CD by Kevin Gray. The 180-gram vinyl reissue is very good; there’s some predictable lower-treble zip on vocals but the analog recording is recognizably of the era and not plagued by the hyperbolic processing yet to come. A quiet treasure of an LP.