Monday, 7 June 2010

Kristin Hersh releases new album as a book.

Kristin Hersh’s music touches me in places even doctors and expensive call girls cannot reach. Her music is the ongoing exploration of a biploar mind – one rich in imaginative wonder and emotional depth. Listening to her songs is an intimate, disquieting act in the same manner as mellowing to Leonard Cohen, Vic Chestnutt, or Joni Mitchell.

Unlike those folks, I find Kristin more interesting as a personality. She towers above other soul-bearing musicians with her generosity, sincerity, and willingness to connect with her listenership beyond the song. Her Kristinness can be felt in every pore of her music: through her original lyricism, which bridges the gap between cryptic, literate and personal, and her enviable eclecticism (she also fronts alt-pop sirens Throwing Muses and punk purists 50 Foot Wave).

Today, her eighth studio album as a solo artist, Crooked, is released as a book. This is exciting because, well . . . her album is being released as a book. Do I have to do a little dance? This is a momentous moment for the tenuous borderline between music and literature. Many authors (well, Nick Hornby) have tried to marry music with literature. Usually the genres prove as marriable as Katie Price to anything other than bank transfers.

Crooked doesn’t contain a work of prose – the book element is achieved through essays on each song and excerpts from her forthcoming memoir, Rat Girl. The disc itself will contain a treasure trove of exclusive online content, which adds a hypertextual dimension to this multimedia feast. Crooked could represent a more symbiotic relationship between music and text, between the art and its creation. Watch this space.

Kristin has been donating free music on
her website since the release of her 2007 album Learn to Sing Like a Star. Crooked will consist of re-recorded versions of these songs, meaning long-term devotees like me will be familiar with its content. Likewise with the essays – the words will no doubt be taken from her live blog and reproduced in print. This makes Crooked more of a fresh discovery for newcomers, though for long-term fans the additional extras are likely to keep us entertained. They are a thoughtful bunch.

So three cheers for this challenging and unpredictable artist, and her challenging and unpredictable music! Youtube videos of Kristin tend to focus on her Michael Stipe association, but here are a few gems:

Duet with the late Vic Chestnutt:

TV performance of ‘Flooding’:

Recent live version of ‘Krait’:

1 comment:

  1. Kristin Hersh is an Iconic She-Queen12 June 2010 at 01:12

    I agree, Mark! You are utterly correct in your assessment that Kristin Hersh rocks ass, and that only idiots with no brains will refuse to listen to the music in those videos. The version of Krait especially tingles my bum nodules.