Modest atmosphere, fearless honesty
The circularity of the modern rock ride is unnerving sometimes. The Blake Babies’ cult momentum brought Juliana Hatfield to the doorstep of Atlantic Records nearly 20 years ago, and you wonder if she would’ve flinched knowing that her 11th album two decades later would be self-recorded in a Cambridge bedroom.
If forced modesty is the hallmark of the current business model, at least Hatfield has the grace to pull it off without bitterness or recrimination. While her album shares its laptop atmosphere with many other troubadours plying Boston’s streets, it’s sprinkled with heavyweight pro touches that belie her deeper legacy. “Why Can’t We Love Each Other” is a simple, breathless should-be hit, and the tightly compressed guitar solo on “What Is Wrong” screams with a veteran’s assurance. “Evan,” her fearless ode to, yes, Evan Dando shows that Hatfield is not afraid to one-up spartan with naked—and beautiful.