Kristin Hersh - "Sunny Border Blue"
Former member of Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh follows up 1999s critically acclaimed "Sky Motel" with her latest offering "Sunny Border Blue". This must have been a real labour of love for Kristin. She produced, wrote and played all the instruments herself, with the only exception being her cover of the Cat Stephens song "Trouble". When a musician has total control of the entire process the results have a tendency to be mixed. Prince for example is a genius when it comes to creating his own music. He surrounds himself with excellent musicians and the best recording equipment available. Even when he's not on top of his game he has always stood head and shoulders above the competition. I mention Prince because he really knows how to produce himself in the best way possible.
However in the case of Kristin Hersh her efforts come across as humourless, over wrought, weary and far too self conscious. Not since Alanis Morrisette have I been subjected to such self obsessed sixth form poetry full of over analysed, negative feeling and pessimistic musings on the down side of life. I'm not doubting her suffering or her despair and torment but its just a lot to be confronted with in one sitting. She made a very low key, lo-fi, modest album album which has sparse instrumentation yet sounds professional if unambitious. Its to her credit that she had the courage to undertake such a daunting task.
"Your Dirty Answer" is a folk tinged, slow yet sweetly sung song with symbolic lyrics like "Your guitars a race car, sex is your best friend, what your dirty answer" A little more prolific than say Billie, Lolly or even Atomic Kitten. Sarcasm aside it's good to hear a singer-songwriter laying bare their soul and opening up their hearts.
Most of the songs are acoustic with the occasional piano playing a welcome addition. "White Suckers" is my own personal favourite, very much in the tradition of PJ Harvey and is the most moving of the 13 tracks included. In small dosed "Sunny Border Blue" is a pleasant listen but to sit through the entire album is a little draining and to be honest too much of an effort.
Nicholas Paul Godkin