Kristin Hersh

Acts Playing South by Southwest

SXSW Records

Kristin Hersh

Sunny Border Blue (Beggars Banquet)

Kristin Hersh, like Juliana Hatfield, is blessed with a loyal audience always ready for her next offering. With Sunny Border Blue, Hersh leaves behind the girl-woman axis that made her music in Throwing Muses so compelling, and moves completely into the world of womanhood. That has left her a little discomfited in her new surroundings, and Blue reflects her tentative world. The 13 songs herein offer musings, meanderings, disappointments, and some anger on the subject of love and relationships. Problem is, the songs are depressingly similar and similarly depressing, even the cover of Cat Stevens' melancholy "Trouble." For someone who's been so strong lyrically, Hersh relies too much on cursing her exes ("Flipside"), and there's no sign of the engaging pop like "Bright Yellow Gun" she's capable of. Not to say she has abandoned her craft. No, these are pensive and introspective songs of quality, just missing some of the poetic warmth of her previous recordings, though "Summer Salt" comes close. When her next recording comes around, odds are that Sunny Border Blue will prove to be an assessment of her musical direction, sending her spinning through another dark universe. (Friday, March 16, Texas Union Theater, 9pm)

**.5

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