Editors' pick

Rosanne Cash, Kristin Hersh, John Wesley Harding and Josh Ritter


Editorial Review

Album review: "Crooked"

Another Kristin Hersh solo recording, another rabbit hole adventure. Only this time around, you're not on your own.

The singer-songwriter known for her curious lyrics offers a guided tour on "Crooked" - an innovative multimedia book that provides a digital download of the album, extra cuts and commentary track. The book also features a series of brief essays that shed welcome light on Hersh's poetic, provocative and puzzling songcraft.

None of this will come as news to devoted fans who helped select and shape the tunes on "Crooked" via online interaction with Hersh over the past several years. But even listeners who have been tracking Hersh's career since Throwing Muses arrived on the indie rock scene in the early '80s will probably find her candid prose as interesting (and more revealing) than the album's sparsely arranged and often haunting music. Here, for example, she comments on the jangly "Krait," an album highlight: "I read my children as my only Bible, 'cause they seem to know everything. And they're so good at picking up where we left off."

And here's a postscript inspired by another standout track, the imagery-charged "Sand": "Road nature is a meadow behind a dumpster, road health is finding anything to eat, road highs and hangovers are mixed up to the point where you are no longer aware of the contents of your own bloodstream."

- Mike Joyce, Jan. 2011