Kristen Barry

The Beginning.The Middle.The End

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1996's The Beginning. The Middle. The End. is the formidable first effort by Seattle-native Kristen Barry. Barry is backed by a band, but still handles vocals, guitar, piano and, on a couple songs, slide whistle. Chris Ballew of Presidents of the United States plays bass on "Created," one of the best of songs on a wonderful album. Barry has a big voice not unlike Sinead O'Connor and it easily knifes through despite the rough and tumble music on most of the tracks. The offerings here are diverse. "Seeing Gun" kicks along at a breakneck pace, while the sonic assault lets up on her gentle reading of Neil Young's "Don't Cry." The lyrics are occasionally vague, but often exhibit a concise wit. And, in the end, the best song is the piano-based "Why Are You Wasting My Time," in which Barry turns the title into an achingly beautiful mantra.

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