Review of " I Need a Man"
Austin singer/songwriter and popular blogger Jannie Funster has released her new C.D. entitled “ I Need a Man”. The title of the collection in part refers to her song “I Need Man ( with a chainsaw ) and, in part is a comment on what some would see as the post feminist nature of her work. The term post feminism is an ambiguous one and can even be considered pejorative. Here I define post feminism as artistic comment on the role of women following the success of the feminist movement. In my opinion, post feminist writers (again, as defined here) are able to focus on what some would consider more traditional female issues, not despite of, but because of the gender revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.
Funster has been described by one record producer as getting close to the line between clever songs and novelty songs, without passing over. This was meant as a compliment. Think Randy Newman, although I am not comparing Funster to him (no one could be so compared). Some of her work elicits laughter, but it is more a laughter of understanding and empathy than one of pure comedy. The title song, “I Need a Man” describes the sexual and emotional needs of an independent rural woman who has the realization that most of us have, that while we can get by on our own, life is certainly more complete with a significant other and that indeed there is often a genuine and painful need for that other. One who ,in Funster’s words, will “trim my hedges” and “milk my favorite cow”. Funster then turns the everywoman “need” onto its head by celebrating the woman’s role in pure sexuality in “Sugar Lady” changing from “I need a man” to “ men need me”. Finally, in the well crafted tune, “Motorcycle Cop” Funster uses the vibrations of early to mid 60s female pop records, such as “Leader of the Pack”, to portray the emotions of the shy girl who has fallen in love with a motorcycle cop she passes daily on her way to work, wondering if she should commit a crime to get his attention. The short role of the cop is played by Funster’s husband. The insecure girl in Motorcycle cop could very easily be the insecure bride in Wedgie Wedding where the protagonist frets that on the biggest day of her life, the presence of an underwear wedgie, the most minor of irritants, may destroy the occasion.
There are other strong efforts in the album, my favorite being a look at spirituality in “Bob’s Coffee Shop”. In this song, the protagonist prays to God ,not only in Thanksgiving, but in genuine sympathy for the Almighty. Concerned that God is tired and lonely (at the top) she suggests that they get together for cheesecake at Bob’s Coffee Shop. The cheesecake and coffee acting as a metaphor for the Eucharist with the singer alluding to John 4:14.
In three strongly biographical, but still universal songs, the singer looks at the slight melancholy of the ageing process in “Kissing 39 Goodbye” and the frustrations faced in life while seeking to find your proper place (“What’ll I do with Me”) . Finally she looks with perhaps some bemusement and a little regret at where she has been in trying to get to that proper place (“Hurricane Jane”). In the final cut, written and sung by her young daughter, Funster foreshadows the passing of the torch as it were, to the next generation of women.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the penultimate cut and the most beautiful piece on the album, the wonderful musical work “Mystery Song”. One of the most interesting songs, and the one with the most commercial appeal, is “Bones”. I predict that someday you will be watching a mystery on television and suddenly hear “Bones “as a terrified actor walks through a scary house. It will play right before the discovery of a dead body (or perhaps half a dozen). While among the most interesting, my one quibble with the album is that I don’t feel that “Bones “fits the motif" of the overall work, but then again, reviewers are often wrong about motifs.
All in all, this is a wonderful effort which can be purchased at Waterloo Records here in Austin, or on line at the singer’s website at www.janniefunster.com”. I could not recommend it more highly.