Music Scene: Janet Batch's new album features songs that reflect on her upstate NY roots

·2 min read

It’s a familiar tale, as old as Hollywood itself: talented young artist escapes life on the family farm and heads to the big city to make it big and finds fame and fortune.

Well, OK, maybe Ithaca doesn’t qualify as the “big city”, but other than that, it’s all working out according to script for Central New York native Sandra Fish, better known in country music circles by her stage name, Janet Batch.

“The bulk of my growing up years were in the town of Litchfield in Herkimer County, and I attended Mount Markham Schools,” says Janet. “I grew up on my family's dairy farm with my six siblings (later to become seven.)”

Janet Batch recently released her second album, “You Be The Wolf.”
Janet Batch recently released her second album, “You Be The Wolf.”

Janet has performed on Bound for Glory, at The Great Blue Heron Music Festival, Downtown Ithaca’s Summer Concert Series, and The Ithaca Festival and has opened for such luminaries as Marty Stuart and Sean Rowe.

The singer/songwriter has recently released her second album, “You Be The Wolf,” a follow-up to her critically-acclaimed 2017 debut, “A Good Woman is Hard to Find.”

The new album features songs that reflect her upstate New York roots, telling larger-than-life tales of memorable characters in rural settings.

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The record is proof that, while you can take the artist out of Central New York, you can’t take the Central New York out of the artist; snapshots of Herkimer County can be found throughout the record.

“You can hear little local references here and there,” says Janet. “I have a song called ‘Bridgewater’ on the record. Also, I mention ‘that shack on 20,’ referring to a video rental place between West Winfield and Bridgewater we’d ride to as kids.”

Another tune pays tribute to an old Litchfield neighbor, and the record closes with “Sara Anne”, dealing with one of the area’s most well-known tragedies.

“Most songs were inspired by life in the 315, more or less,” Batch notes.

The musical stylings on “You Be The Wolf” capture everything from classic country waltzes to boot-stomping two-steps, but the lyrics are deeper and more poetic than might be expected in a typical country song.

“It’s been described as ‘country with an art degree’ which is pretty accurate,” Janet says. “I like to play with rhymes, alliteration, imagery, metaphor, etc. My aim is to write songs that make you cry in your beer or stand up and sing along.”

The 10-song album was recorded and mixed by Chris Ploss at Sunwood Recording in Trumansburg and produced and performed by Janet and her band, Chris Ploss (percussion, keys), Sid Green (electric guitar), and Mike Brando (bass) with some added help from Sam Schmidt (fiddle) and Jason Shegogue (guitar, lap steel).

The album can be purchased at janetbatch.bandcamp.com/music.

Mark Sisti is an experienced musician who writes about local music for the Observer-Dispatch. You can reach him at msist1@roadrunner.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Janet Batch's new album features songs that reflect upstate NY roots

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