Kristin Hersh: "Learn to Sing Like a Star"
Producer: Kristin Hersh
Release Date: Jan. 23
This is merely the 22nd release in Hersh's 20-year career. Yet it has the ambition, enthusiasm and intensity of an artist still pushing the envelope. These terse, rocking tone poems of self-awareness expose Hersh's conflict between "numb and feeling," as she puts it in "Peggy Lee." Children and marriage haven't muted the adolescent emptiness. Check out "Day Glo," on which she asks, "Have you ever been mellow? . . . Have you ever been hollow?" But experience and musical growth have made her issues more compelling. Throwing Muses drummer David Narcizo provides a driving backbeat, while the cello and violin of Martin and Kimberlee McCarrick surge and ebb, enhancing the drama without softening the edges. The refusal, or inability, to embrace tranquility makes Hersh's best music so magnetic. In "Vertigo," she acknowledges that "my attitude's fundamentally off." Let's hope that's a bearable price for artistry that's so fundamentally "on." --Wayne Robins