Janis Haves
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Janis Haves

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Alan Cackett - Maverick Magazine ****/5
"Janis wrote all ten songs on this collection, which takes an unflinching look at life and relationships yet maintains an atmosphere of hope and encouragement……..
Though the songs are all of a very high standard, vocal performances shine through on the shared vocals with Geoff, especially Shameless, with the finely plucked guitar, Build it up again, a pop flavoured song with a unique lyrical and musical approach that harks back to the 1970's, and the driving Gone.
This is a highly creditable debut which this pair can hopefully build on for the future."
- Maverick Magazine


David Kidman - Netrhythmns

. As well as a mighty fine songwriter, Janis is a pretty exceptional singer (a bit in the Emmylou Harris mould perhaps, with shades here and there of Maura Kennedy), possessing both delicacy and a great range, and an innate ability to get right inside the idiom, whether on the sublime, rippling Shameless or the soaring torch-ballads Turn Your Love Around and If That Were Me or the gutsy power-jangle of the tongue-in-cheek Car and An Evening Spent Alone (Dar Williams meets Lucy Kaplansky?) or the ache of Miss You. A superb début all told, which has been difficult to prise away from the CD player!

- Netrhythmns


Listening to Big Front Door, the first solo album from Janis Haves – one half of Haves and Haves the other being her husband, guitarist and producer Geoff - is a bit like being a welcome guest in her home, you're privileged to be there as a well-thumbed family album is opened. Warm memories and experiences pour out of every note and line. It is impossible not to be enchanted by the magical world Haves has created. To step through the Big Front Door is to enter a better place.

Somehow it is entirely fitting that the artwork for the album should come from a birthday card given by Geoff to Janis. It encapsulates the whole weave of personal and family history that runs though the heart of Big Front Door. It also provides and instant connection between artist and listener.

Haves also provides a reminder of how incisive, beautifully simple folk
music can be. Her voice on songs like The Box pierces through the darkness
like a pinpoint of light. There is a crystal clarity about what she says and
how she says it.

In common with the very best of folk singers, male or female, Haves displays
a strength of purpose. As with Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez, there is nothing
twee or condescending about either Janis Haves or Big Front Door, Waiting
For Jesus for one is sombre and direct . But whether it's the touching Gwendoline or the well of emotion that is In My Chair, a song written and
performed through her grandfather's eyes, or even the straight, pacy
narrativeof Mary and Me it is impossible to escape the magnetism of these
stories. For the space of an album her personal is your personal. She is so
engaging a performer that you can't help but become inextricably entwined in
songs like Blind Leading The Blind, but more important than that you can't
help but care about them.

Big Front Door is the musical equivalent of having a masterpiece painted
before your eyes. Each song adds another shade until the picture is
complete.
- www.netrhythms.com


Other half Geoff is still there on guitar and producing, but the follow up to their Haves & Haves debut is being accorded the solo spotlight because the songs derive from a very much more personal experience. Having written opening track Gwendoline, a portrait in song about her visits as a 13 year old to formidable singing teacher Miss Gwendoline Ayles-Ramsey and her wisteria strewn house with its big front door, Haves began to reflect on the other women who had helped shape her life and had since passed on.

And so a conceptually thematic album was born, embracing memories of feminist maiden aunts, poets, singers, a best friend's mum and her Nan, the subject of the delicate tinkling In My Chair, sung in the person of her late widowed grandfather.

Although the popular blonde the singer resents and wishes she could be gets a name in the tumbling summery pop Mary and Me, most aren't quite that person specific. You certainly don't need access to her family tree or address book to relate to the child in a hurry to grow up in the 60s Greenwich Village folksy jangly waltz swaying Blind Leaving The Blind, the awe of a writer's skill in Write Those Words (where Brad Lang's upright bass works its own wonders), the stagnated dreams that never set sail in Tall Ships and the need to escape dead end towns that chugs through Older, or Waiting For Jesus's exhausted desire for death as an end to worldly troubles.

There's no hints of the Emmylou comparisons that the last album elicited and while her country affections are still evident on the likes of Older, it's steeped far more in suburbia's cul de sacs than open highways, Haves's phrasings and the often leafy folk melodies and arrangements (The Box, Chasing Rainbows) denoting a very English record with very English sensibilities. A door well worth the opening.

Mike Davies - Roots and Branches


Discography

Album 1 - 'Haves and Haves' BBC regional airplay over the UK incl. Album of the week BBC Radio Wales
Album 2 - Big Front Door - BBC regional airplay over the UK

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Bio

So! C'mon Janis - who are you and what’s it all about (Alfie!).... Actually it's just all about songwriting and performing - simple really! That’s been the lynch pin and the inspiration around everything I've done. I've have been a songwriter all my life ((well the bit that counts anyway!) but things really started getting interesting after I walked away from a 5 year commercial songwriting deal with the legendary Rockfield studios in Wales.
Pop writing just wasn't the path I needed to take and hard though it was, I walked away (gulp!) Since then with the help of big machete, shaped like a guitar (that's why they call it an axe:-) I've managed to forge a new path and and lucky to have performed live on Sky TV’s ‘Where it’s at’ programme, appear as a featured artist on Radio 4a, perform at folk clubs and festivals across the UK, been invited to open for Albert Lee (on the UK legs of two consecutive tours) which was a fantastic thrill and add to that a solo performance at the wonderful Bluebird Café in Nashville. I was also thrilled to appear alongside longtime revered UK songwriter/guitarist Michael Chapman and singer/songwriter Peter Bruntnell as part of a hugely successful 10 date arts centre tour called ‘Songwriters in the Round’. Last year I launched 'Angelic Music' the first label in the UK to specialise in female singer/songwriters and occasionally also produce and present a show for Radio Brit Folk but through all that I'll always ultimately do what really counts in the end - sing to you like you're the only person in the room, and mean it!