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Kristin Hersh

Learning to Sing Like a Star (YepRoc)

Reviewed by Shawn Badgley, Fri., Feb. 16, 2007

Phases & Stages

Kristin Hersh

Learn to Sing Like a Star (YepRoc)

Should we be surprised that after two decades of alternately raging and wailing, Kristin Hersh's voice sounds so dignified, so worn and torn, or that it serves her so well on her first solo album in four years? "Ask a question, you get an earful," she rasps amid clattering Nineties guitar fills and the push and pull of strings on opener "In Shock." Indeed. Learn to Sing Like a Star is the full Hersh experience, encompassing as it does all of her back-catalog iterations, from the knife-throwing thrills of the Throwing Muses' precise power pop to the cutting melancholia of her Hips and Makers-era balladry. With help from Dave Narcizo on drums and Martin and Kimberlee McCarrick on cello and violin, Hersh handles everything else. She's at the height of her considerable powers on "Winter," a sweeping bass-and-bells love song that manages to capture the crackle and hiss of "sand in naked flame," and on "Wild Vanilla," a discordant but catchy work somehow both vintage and original.

***.5

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