It’s a fair distance from San Francisco to Hammersmith, but as the powerful singer songwriter Jana Heller proved, if your music is strong enough it will strike a chord with almost any audience.

Jana found herself in the potentially tricky position of having to fill a gap between an excellent opening set by British folk singer Graham Larkby and the almost legendary British folk institution, The Albion Band.

However, being straddled between two such bastions of the U.K. folk scene, proved to be no problem to the Californian singer who thrilled a packed Fountain Leisure Centre.

         Jana relies on very few on stage embellishments beyond her acoustic guitar and dulcimer. Both instruments in fact are used purely as vehicles for a souring voice that often reminds me of the late Janis Joplin and at other times Joni Mitchell.

Yet make no mistake Jana Heller is a major talent in her own right, with a catalogue of stirring songs that soon overcame the initial clinking of pint pots at the bar.

If her songs titles like Fear, and Hunger sound sparse and bleak, then they do her an injustice as the majority of the songs, although in part seemingly autobiographical, are in the main thoughtful cameos with hints of irony and humour. The audience was quick to pick up on the latter and within four songs were right behind her.

If the singer song writer syndrome still conjures up images of 60’s survivors, think again and look out for this admirable Hammersmith based performer who has made West London her home and looks to have a sparkling future. On the evidence of this performance, record companies will soon be in tow. Pete Feenstra Brentford and Chiswick Times-January 1989

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