Kristin Hersh - Possible Dust Clouds - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Kristin Hersh - Possible Dust Clouds

by Rob Taylor Rating:10 Release Date:2018-10-05
Kristin Hersh - Possible Dust Clouds
Kristin Hersh - Possible Dust Clouds

Patti Smith was the godmother of punk, and Kristin Hersh is probably the godmother of feminist college indie. When a musician does something genuinely epochal, that is, virtually unprecedented in music, we shouldn't be afraid to talk it up. Kristin Hersh really is something of a musical lynchpin. As vital to grungy, independent female songwriting as Smith ever was in the 1970s.

A fist-shaking feminist, bitter and sweet, kind and driven by wrath, Hersh’s life as college rock queen, and the anguish she has experienced as a sufferer of bipolar disorder, represent in her music the perfect intersection of light and dark. The two poles which inform her songwriting, sometimes ornamental and beautiful, sometimes rancorous and plain unnerving. The lighter tracks have always been augmented by strings, or just her assured acoustic strumming. Guitar work that accelerates and decelerates as if the embodiment of her thought processes, a torrent of emotion that threatens, and often does, detonate midway through her more troubled songs. The song that best represents this is “Your Dirty Answer” from Sunny Border Blue, an album that Hersh once told me was a ‘brutal’ album, before laughing that I should gush over such splenetic personal disclosures. It is my favourite album of hers.

On her new album, Possible Dust Clouds seems more positive, as she did with her reflections on Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, her last album that included meditations on how her autistic son might have perceived the vast spaces around her recording studio, a partly dilapidated building. Possible Dust Clouds is an apotheosis, a point in time in Hersh’s personal career where she seems to have found the freedom to steer a less dissonant emotional path. Less fraught and more confident. Gone are the tumults of many songs in her oeuvre. It’s a remarkably consistent album, if not instantly likeable. It took me a few listens to appreciate the difficult tonality, the arrhythmic lack of flow in some of the tracks. The melodies aren't revealed for a while. It takes some concentration to get there but you are duly rewarded.

Best tracks here, ‘Fox Point’, ‘Breathe In’ and ‘No Shade in Shadow’ have a high spirited, nourishing energy. The floor-scuffing bass of the latter is occasionally disrupted by percussion that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Sly and the Family Stone album. Hersh gets funky. Alright! This is a great track. ‘Breathe In’ is Hersh having a blast with guitar effects and processed vocals, but really the underbelly is pure college rock bliss.

Some musicians are always market leaders.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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