While many songs benefit from a string backing, few acts go the whole hog and replace all the instruments with strings. Strings is Kristin Hersh singing four songs over a quartet. With no percussion, both melody and rhythm hinge on an expert arrangement. Strings is exquisite. With so little holding it together, you’ll find yourself breathless in the pauses. I’m a sucker for a violin at the best of times but in these hands the hitherto rather ordinary songs become deeply affecting.
A Loon is jagged discordant jabs that are immediately compelling – Hersh’s voice a commanding rasp. Sundrops is dazzling and well-structured – I love the double bass on this. Me and My Charms is an anthem of melancholy. Velvet Days is even more downbeat, though more classic-movie-soundtrack than the aching sadness of the preceding track – Velvet Days is more wistful and hopeful. There’s even a rousing bit towards the end that will have you tapping a toe or two. Strings is a hauntingly lovely diversion from the regular Kristin Hersh.
I can’t find any clips of just Kristin + quartet live, or even any clips of these arrangements, so these are alternative versions.
I have the four-track version; apparently a version with eight tracks exists (in the US). I got this one as a download from Amazon as a replacement for a lost CD.