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Blue expressive and serene

Former Throwing Muses singer Kristin Hersh makes comeback with new CD

People ask me all the time: If you could meet any musician in the world, who would it be? Though I change my mind regularly, the one person I come back to, without fail, is Kristin Hersh.

Hersh, who may be known best for her work with former band Throwing Muses, is one of the most amazing and diligent songsters out there. Throwing Muses albums were released as often as some college students call their parents, with one, two and even three CDs per year.

Hersh, who is married with children, released her fifth solo CD, Sunny Border Blue, on the 4AD record label Tuesday. It is a collection of 12 original songs and a cover of Cat Stevens' "Trouble."

Hersh has taken on the job of sole producer and musician, playing all of the song's instruments with the exception of one drum track by recording engineer Steve Rizzo on "Trouble."

"It wasn't like I was playing harp or bagpipes, and the drum parts aren't exactly brain surgery, but when I work alone I can maintain focus indefinitely - for six months, in this case," Hersh said in a press release. "The only other people in the studio were my husband Billy (O'Connell, who is also her manager), my sons and Steve Rizzo."

The CD's most expressive song "Spain," has a calm-before-the-storm beginning with basic acoustic guitar, modest drum work and Hersh's scratchy vocals, which bursts halfway through into an emotionally draining change in melody that increased in volume, charisma and passion.

"The first half was written about being in Spain and is as beautiful as Spain," Hersh said. "The second half is so pissed off."

The CD's final track, "Listerine," moves with a solemn beat, dramatic three-chord guitar riff, spooky, spoken backing vocals, agonized lead vocals and lyrics that paint a gloomy picture of loneliness and rejection.

"I really like this song," Hersh said. "One of my friends was in the studio when I recorded this and got really upset. But it's just one of my `Oh-my-stupid-life' songs. It's not melodramatic. It just says it is."

It's this simple: if you know you don't like Hersh's previous solo work, you're not going to like Sunny Border Blue. If you've never been exposed to Hersh but enjoy austere, serene melodies and consistently conscious-expanding views on existence itself, Hersh is making music that should be flowing from your CD player this very second.

Hersh will be performing a free, solo acoustic show Tuesday at noon at Borders Books in Santa Fe, 500 Montezuma Ave. Her schedule is loose and she may sign autographs after the show.

For more information, call Borders at (505) 954-4707. Hersh will also perform in Austin, Texas, at South By Southwest, which starts March 14.

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