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Kristin Hersh - Sunny border blue (4AD)

Many years after her debut with the former 4AD mainstays, The Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh remains at the forefront of the label's roster. That is, however, a double-edged sword. 4AD, these days, is far from the trend-setting indie label of yore - one would be hard pushed to name a 4AD artist of the past 5 years that has anything like the impact of The Pixies, Bauhaus, The Cocteau Twins or, of course, the Muses.

For her part, Kristin's solo career has never really fulfilled its initial promise of success. "Hips and Makers" received far more attention than the three that have followed it. Not that it's through any failing of hers, as her recorded output has been of a consistently high quality. It just seems that she's not quite what MTV are looking for these days.

Having done the unplugged acoustic stuff, and then the "plugging back in" album, "Sky Motel", "Sunny border blue" fits no such easy categorisations. The tracks are officially acoustic, with Kristin playing all the instruments on all but one of the tracks. However, the edge and the power of the music is more typically the indie pop/rock sound Kristin played a part in creating. Lyrically, it is typically Kristin Hersh, deeply personal, but often obtuse and self-contradictory, while, at other times, so clear its slightly uncomfortable. Kristin Hersh remains the antithesis of sanitised corporate alt rock and, while she'll probably never again reach the fame she had when she was younger, she is now, undeniably a classic.

Donnacha DeLong

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