When Jenny Bird released Into Stars on her Earthlight label in 1998, the singer/songwriter had been recording for 22 years. But Bird wasn't being complacent; Into Stars underscored her desire to keep forging ahead, and a man who can take some of the credit for that is veteran producer/drummer Jerry Marotta. Although Marotta doesn't do any writing on this CD--Bird wrote all of the material herself--he produced Into Stars and helps the folk-rocker sound contemporary (by late ‘90s standards). The "three J's" (Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell) continue to influence Bird's work, but at the same time, Into Stars finds the New Mexico resident incorporating ‘90s influences like Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan--in other words, singer/songwriters who weren't old enough to vote when Bird recorded her debut LP, Open Your Heart, for Warner Bros. Records' Dutch division in 1976. "Emotional," for example, has a very DiFranco-ish quality, as does the candid "I'm Not a Saint Yet" (which Bird dedicates to Mother Theresa). But bringing younger influences to the table doesn't mean that Bird's own personality becomes obscured--not at all. Her voice is as recognizable as ever, and as a lyricist, she's still her own person. For Bird, incorporating the influence of DiFranco and others isn't about sacrificing her individuality; it's about growth and evolution. And besides, many of the Gen-X singer/songwriters who emerged in the ‘90s and performed at McLachlan's Lillith Fair festival were influenced by the same people who were influencing Bird before the ‘90s--it isn't as though DiFranco, McLachlan and the Indigo Girls were oblivious to the contributions of Baez, Mitchell and Collins. Clearly, Marotta's input serves Bird well on Into Stars.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson