Review - Strange Angels

Artist: Kristin Hersh

There couldn't be a more apt title for a Kristin Hersh album. Since fronting the magnificent Throwing Muses beginning in the late '80s, Hersh has crafted music that is jagged, twisted, sometimes macabre and utterly heavenly. Her newest album is the best yet, more refined than her work with the Muses and richer musically than her solo debut, "Hips and Makers."

Hersh could have been an author; her songs have an undertow of terrible honesty as does the best fiction. Underscored by her odd, affecting warble, the lyrics hint at deeper truths left untold. In "Like You," she sings, You're one in a million, you're one in two/You're not like women, and I'm not like you ... Your spell is broken but I'm still here.

This lyrical push-and-tug is echoed in the music; the rhythm of the guitar builds like a slowly escalating heartbeat, then slows again, its pace skewed. Even in Hersh's happiest-sounding songs, one can't escape the sense that at any moment some mighty fury or inestimable sadness will be unleashed. The effect is unsettling -- as is the best art of any kind.

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