SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Whether edgy and electric with her band, Throwing Muses, or quietly intimate on her recent acoustic solo debut, Kristin Hersh never has been less than intense while plugging into the emotional currents that flow through troubled homes and tormented minds.
But the prospect of Hersh playing solo and acoustic, as she did on Friday at the Coach House, seemed a little daunting. Given her heavy subject matter and the fact that her symbolic, fragmentary lyrics typically render literal meanings obscure, an evening of unadorned Hersh songs held great potential for claustrophobia.
As it turned out, Hersh the singer-guitarist was as darkly vivid as ever, but Hersh the hostess proved to be a spontaneous and richly comic raconteur who gave the show the lighter dimension it needed to succeed.
She spun imaginative tall tales, made wry observations about life in the music business, and thoroughly charmed her fans with warm, funny stories about her toddler son that struck a perfect balance between doting affection and crusty humor.
In short, Hersh took advantage of the intimate format to open up in a direct, disarming way that gave her performance an entirely new dimension.
\o7 * Hersh plays tonight at 8:30 at the Roxy, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, $16.50. (310) 276-2222. \f7