On Aftertones, Janis Ian (guitar/piano/vocals) continued the artistic, and to a lesser extent, the commercial success she garnered on her previous effort Between The Lines (1975). Once again, she assembled some of the finest session musicians from the Big Apple to animate her intimately sensitive sonic portraits and caricatures. Although Ian would not surpass the universality of "At Seventeen," much of this disc continues the theme and moods expressed as far back as Stars (1974). Ian's advanced folk sensibilities are emotional progressions away from the weepy and introspective nature heard from her mid-'70s singer/songwriter contemporaries. Part of Ian's enticement is the marriage between achingly beautiful melodies and thoroughly personalized lyrics. The album commences with the title track setting the tenor and sonic ambiance. The acoustic guitar and compact string section lend to "Aftertones" slightly baroque feel, which adds to the song's palpable isolation ("'Til all that's left to see are aftertones/I take them home/ We live alone"). The beautifully bitter "Love Is Blind," and the harrowing "Don't Cry, Old Man" are piercing in their honesty. They contrast the lighter fare of "I Would Like to Dance," as well as the tongue-in-cheek "Boy, I Really Tied One On," or the overtly kinky blues "This Must Be Wrong." "Goodbye to Morning" is a dark jazzy ode that stands out as one of the best sides on the album, featuring some distinct interaction between Richard Davis (acoustic bass) and Ian's own rambling, unplugged fretwork. Folk and gospel legends Odetta (vocals) and Phoebe Snow (vocals) join in on Aftertones magnum opus, "Hymn." The trio soulfully swaddle their subtle harmonies into a unified lead as they languidly allow their own vocal aftertones resonate with unencumbered majesty.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer