Kristin Hersh’s new album ‘Clear Pond Road’ is a cinematic road trip; a series of personal vignettes from a fiercely independent auteur, plush with layers of atonal, edgy-dreamy strings and mellotron. It’s a watershed moment in a career overflowing with creative firsts and inspirational thinking, an elegant piece of personal reportage: a home movie caught in time.
Previously, the juxtaposition of light and dark has been essential to the drama of Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave, but this solo set is something of a departure: more inward looking. Produced and performed by Hersh, ‘Clear Pond Road’ is quieter yet more outspoken, its inventive musical logic underpinned by the ambience of field recordings.
“Passion sounds less angry here, more grateful, I think” Kristin says, “sweeter, sadder, and somehow no less alive. Honestly? It’s a love story and its erratic heart rate reflects this. As textured and raunchy as real life songs like these can get, the sonic vocabulary is delicate, so I had to respect that and keep it grounded with car engines and rain in New England, then whistling ducks and wind chimes in New Orleans. Which sounds wistful, like a blurry photograph”.
“Kristin Hersh’s tough, instinctive wail, has been one of the greatest sounds in American underground rock for decades.” Stereogum
‘Clear Pond Road’ is sensuous: a life-affirming statement, a new piece of this mysterious jigsaw, a very personal memoir. From street signs to snapshots, it’s a blossoming of a true icon of independence. The record is both intimate yet expansive.
“Some records demand to be made” says Hersh “and you know this is the case when the songs function as systems in a body. I octavized an acoustic baritone as the skeleton, cellos are the lungs, a Nashville-strung Collings and glockenspiel were the fingertips feeling around in this weird-ass dark space, and drums are always your heart, of course…but the vocals are a strange narrator here. A narrator lost in the story, of all things, more like eyes”. She laughs, “In other words, no brain! Never let your mind anywhere near your music”.
Referencing the album’s artwork, Kristin elaborates, “The street sign on the cover is one my youngest son and I found at a junk shop when we were wandering the world, the only ones left in our family. We took it with us everywhere we went to remind ourselves not to get too damaged, too fuzzy. It’d be easy to slip away under the spell of damage, so he and I decided not to let that happen. Back then, Clear Pond Road was a goal. And when I got there? It was time to make this record”.
These songs are like staccato commentaries, short cuts from a long reaching narrative. It feels like a movie soundtrack, painting pictures with lyrics and melodies sweeping across the screen. Kristin laughs, “I did notice a cinematic quality, small world/big picture, as if each song is a scene. But the last song is so sad…hope it’s not a tragedy”.
“Her songs have always been both confessional and formally challenging; they expose her, but also evade us, throwing down clues and scurrying into dark thickets before revealing anything more” NPR
‘Clear Pond Road’ is out now. Available on Rough Trade LTD Ed. Transparent Blue Vinyl with Lyric Book, LTD Ed. Clear Vinyl & CD + Totes & T-Shirts.
24 Sep: Sa Congregacio, Mallorca, Spain
27 Sep: The Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter, UK
29 Sep: St George’s Church, Ramsgate, UK
30 Sep: (Matinee) Florence Park Community Centre, Oxford, UK
30 Sep: Florence Park Community Centre, Oxford, UK
01 Oct: Philharmonic, Liverpool, UK
03 Oct: Strange Brew, Bristol, UK
04 Oct: Acapella Club, Cardiff, UK
05 Oct: South Street Arts Centre, Reading, UK
06 Oct: Storey’s Field, Cambridge, UK
08 Oct: Arts Centre, Norwich, UK
09 Oct: Metronome, Nottingham, UK
10 Oct: Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds, UK
11 Oct: Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds, UK
12 Oct: St Michael’s Ancoats, Manchester, UK
14 Oct: Mono, Glasgow, UK
15 Oct: Summerhall (Dissection Room), Edinburgh, UK
16 Oct: Cluny, Newcastle, UK
17 Oct: Cluny, Newcastle, UK
18 Oct: Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, UK
19 Oct: Cleere’s, Kilkenny, Ireland
20 Oct: Roisin Dubh, Galway, Ireland
21 Oct: Pavilion Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
22 Oct: The Court House, Bangor, UK
23 Oct: The Spirit Store, Dundalk, Ireland
24 Oct: The Old Brewery, Kendal, UK
25 Oct: Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek, UK
26 Oct: Hare And Hounds, Birmingham, UK
28 Oct: (Matinee) St John at Bethnal Green, London, UK
28 Oct: St John at Bethnal Green, London, UK
29 Oct: Komedia, Brighton, UK
02 Nov: Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, Australia
03 Nov: (Matinee) Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, Australia
03 Nov: Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, Australia
05 Nov: Memo Music Hall, St Kilda, Australia
08 Nov: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, Australia
09 Nov: Vanguard, Newton, Australia
10 Nov: Vanguard, Newton, Australia
11 Nov: Baroque Room, Katoomba, Australia
15 Nov: Meow, Wellington, New Zealand
16 Nov: Meow, Wellington, New Zealand
17 Nov: The Piano, Christchurch, New Zealand
18 Nov: Tuning Fork, Auckland, New Zealand
19 Nov: Artworks, Waiheke Island, New Zealand