Venerable Texas musician and songwriter Terri Hendrix has explored various aspects of her chosen art over the twenty years since she first came to my attention with Places In Between. Most recently she has been focused upon examining human connection through a series of releases, Project 5.
The latest installments, Talk To A Human (a full album) and Who Is Ann? (a five-song EP) bring us to a version of Terri Hendrix we might not have expected, but which is certainly welcome.
The music of Project 5.3 Talk To A Human is generous in its breadth; much like each of us, it is no one thing, one shade or texture.
We have uplifting, original anthems (“Choice,” “I Hear Your Song”) and pointed covers (“Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key,” Billy Bragg and Wilco; Cindy Walker’s “Don’t Meddle in My Mood;’ and Guy Clark’s immortal “The Dark,” previously included on the tribute album, This One’s For Him- don’t tell Guy, but I like Terri’s version every bit as much as his) beside a Latin folk, rap-infused number (“Mi Madre”) and a Janis Ian-ish, personal testament of our inability to connect (“Talk to a Human”). More typical Americana, songwriter fare is just as engaging, with “Worthy” and “WASP” being additional favourites.
Working again with Lloyd Maines, who appears busier than usual even by his standards this year, Hendrix refuses to let circumstances overcome her, fighting inertia at every turn. She does her own damn thing, and we love her because of it.
Who Is Ann? stands apart, a complementary companion-piece of challenge and experimentation where Hendrix examines spoken-word poetry (Minton Sparksesque) and electronica-based, percussive instrumentation using loops and effects. The ‘strangeness’ of this approach is enduring: that an established artist continues to push herself to areas that may leave some challenged is an appreciated trait. That the single-word entitled pieces (songs doesn’t really do them justice) are each timely, intriguing, and individually precious further elevates Hendrix’s standing. A seventeen-minute master class in pushing through personal expectations.
Review based on provided CDs.