Kristin Hersh’s Learn to Sing Like a Star is her best album in ages (and I’ve liked the recent albums a great deal). Think Limbo-era Throwing Muses crossed with Strange Angels; great arrangements, great gravel-voiced sing-alongs, great contrasts of loud and quiet. I am a total sucker for the marriage of quiet and loud–see my Catherine Wheel fixation (particularly the B sides and the early stuff).
Adrian Pannett nails something in this review that I’ve always said about Hersh’s work (usually to people who I’ve recommended her to that have hated whatever album they tried):
As with any Kristin Hersh long-player, Learn To Sing Like A Star will of course take a dozen or so spins to reveal its true merits to listeners. Whilst such a heavy investment may seem like a stiff proposition at first – especially in these MP3 shuffle-play days – it will pay back more dividends than most albums released in 2007 will ever manage.
This is one of the things I love best about Hersh. Even though I’m loving this album already, I don’t know it yet. I won’t know it for weeks of repeats, but I know it has layers upon layers, waiting for familiarity to bring them forth.
I can think of very few musicians whose work always gives up something new when I go back to it, but I spent last week revisiting Hips and Makers and fell in love with it all over again, for completely different reasons than back in 1998. (I bought it in 1994 when it first came out, and was guilty of the same thing I’m talking about here — it took four years of chances to get it.)
This latest is as good a Hersh record to start with as any, though, if she isn’t one of your favorite favorites. If she is, well, you’ve probably already bought it.