Kristin Hersh

Strange Angels

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AllMusic Review by

Due to economic reasons, Kristin Hersh reluctantly disbanded the Throwing Muses in 1997, claiming that the trio could no longer afford to tour and record. So, she was essentially forced back to recording a solo acoustic album in the vein of Hips and Makers, her revelatory 1994 solo debut. Strange Angels isn't the equal of that minor masterpiece, partially because the songwriting, while solid, is a little samey, but also because Hersh sounds as if she'd rather be with the Muses. That's not to say her performances are bored -- they're often more inspired than the last Muses album, Limbo -- but they have a melancholy undertone and are occasionally a little listless. These, however, are minor flaws, because Strange Angels is overall a strong collection of songs. Hersh's obtuse, poetic lyrics remain a little impenetrable, yet her melodicism makes them intriguing, even for the curious. And for some longtime fans, that may be a problem -- Strange Angels is the most accessible album in her catalog, because her vocal idiosyncrasies are tamed and the production is a little too clean. Perhaps these are signs of maturity, or perhaps it's an attempt to gain a wider audience, but either way it's a mixed blessing, because the songs cry out for a more varied production to make the record more compelling.

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