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Billings Gazette
December 1996

Pope Jane plays Casey's before starting U.S. tour

All-girl group ready to break out of Billlings
by Tammy West

Forget what you had planned for New Year's Eve and make plans to head down to Casey's Golden Pheasant. If you don't you'll be missing what could prove to be the final Billings performance of the locally grown group, Pope Jane. Featuring the talents of Danielle Egnew on vocals and acoustic guitar, Holly Hoagland on bass, Rita Brown on electric guitar and Kristen Coyner on drums, the all-woman, all-original quartet will be departing for a whirlwind United States tour next year. If you've never heard Pope Jane and can't wait for New Year's Eve, then pick up a copy of "Pope Jane," the 10-song self-titled cassette, which sells for $5 at Barjon's Books.

This enticing sample offers some of the prolific group's most creative work. Never a cover band, Pope Jane is famous for the volume of original material they produce. One of the first things you notice is that the music is seamless. Bass, lead and rhythm guitars and drums form a perfect union of sound. It's more than just different instruments working together, each song is a tapestry of melody. Yet, each sound make itself heard, from Hoagland's bass boom and Brown's hot guitar licks to the softness of Egnew's acoustic guitar and the crashing of Coyner's drums. Egnew's vocals provide the secure stitches that hold the tapestry of Pope Jane together. Her voice is at times ferocious, at others, ethereal. For example, the tender, yet tumultuous "Scrapbook." Penned by Coyner, this song tells a story of a woman suffering the loss of her child. Egnew sings it at two levels, one, soft and fulnerable, the other, barely in control. It's an emotional roller coaster ride of a song.

Another musical morsel is the Egnew composition "Only Names Have Changed." The basic theme of the song is that while times change, people do not. Every album has a song that comments honestly about society, but Pope Jane's is unique because it refuses to sugarcoat anything. There is no moralizing or fables here, just an honest look at life in general.

So, before you go to Casey's on New Year's Eve to take in the group's last local appearance, make sure to pick up this gem. The only thing better than listening at home is watching it live.

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