Sunny Border Blue
4AD CD CAD 2102, 2001 (51:13)
Throwing herself into it
Dan Macintosh, 18 August 2001
One gets the feeling Kristin Hersh has trouble relaxing. You might want to tell her to take it easy, but don't expect her to comply or do it without a fight. Her albums, such as the anything but sunny Sunny Border Blue, are filled with conflicted lyrics that most people reserve only for their private thoughts.
This is a solo album by the former Throwing Muses, and solo in the truest sense of the word since Hersh played all the instruments, except for the drums played on her cover of Cat Stevens' "Trouble."
Although she's terminally irritated, she hasn't given up on trying to find something sacred here on earth. "I'd heard some advice from above," she sings in "37 Hours," "Ducking under, cramming it in/isn't falling in love." She's one of the few girls (or even grrrls) in rock that can get away with a lyric like "cramming it in." Chrissie Hynde comes to mind. So do Patti Smith and P. J. Harvey, but few others.
The song "White Suckers" is about one of Hersh's "romantic" relationships, but it could just as easily describe her personality. "You were nice, but twisted," she sings, nearly autobiographically. A line like "we were a match made in purgatory" also hints at what a relationship with Hersh might actually feel like: somewhere between heaven and hell, but a little closer to the sharp end of the pitchfork.
Musically, Sunny is filled with harshly strummed guitars, disjointed rhythms, vacillating sound levels and Hersh's "nice, but twisted" tortured singing. You may not be able to relax while listening to this music, but I doubt Hersh would want you to simply kick back, when her tremor-some world is your soundtrack.
performers Kristin Hersh, vocals and (almost) all instruments
songs Your Dirty Answer · Spain · 37 Hours · Silica · Williams Cut · Summer Salt · Trouble · Candyland · Measure · White Suckers · Ruby · Flipside · Listerine