Per unit of thickness, a spider’s thread is one of the world’s toughest materials, the gossamer equivalent of steel girders and trusses. Jane Hership’s songs, under the name Spider, have the same sort of delicate strength. Her melodies are spun out to dreamy, whisper-thin translucence, yet the lyrics are clear-eyed and unflinching. She may have the fetching, vibrato-laced delivery of a later-day Melanie, but she is not anyone’s flower girl. “Are you there in the dark?” she trembles in opening cut “The Clearing”, just her wild Appalachian quaver against a flurry of blues chords, but you can tell by the way her voice gains strength through the track that she is already learning to get on by herself. And later, in “Cold Eyes”, smoke-curling trails of slide guitar swirl around Herships’ plaintive sigh and she slips, intermittently into a lower, more soulful register. With “Maggie’s Song for Alice” a bit of the rock even creeps in, with a late-cut burst of distorted electric guitar, a trend that continues with lovely, fuzzy “End Song”, the guitar tone split like Jimi’s at Monterey and the gospel chorus full of certainty. Jane Herships is a quiet one, but she’ll surprise you.
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