Anna Sabin
Thurs Jan 3 at Industrial Coffee (Georgetown).

At FIrst I couldn't figure out whether Anna Sabin was actually off her rocker. Fake-crazy is something I can never stomach, and lord knows there are plenty of people out there with guitars and big mouths desperate to tell the world how batty they are.

But once I realized Sabin is genuinely spooked, I began to trust her integrity as a performer. I started watching the strange hairpin turns her set took until, eventually, I got a little carried away in what she was doing. The hairpin turns first: Sabin played Patsy Cline's "Crazy," Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line," "Amazing Grace," "Do You Hear What I Hear?," John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," and "Me and Bobby McGee"--among others, some of which were bizarre, droning originals--all in the same set, usually botching notes on the guitar or reducing entire songs to one or two chords. Sabin freely bent and knotted songs up to her every scatterbrained whim and fancy.

She's this weird, sputtering, happy, sensual thing, with both a total disregard and a deep, spiritual love for popular music. She sprayed beer all over her audience twice, apparently to wish us a happy New Year. She laughed, tittered, and was easily distracted.

I got a little carried away next. I forgot to care that Sabin butchered Johnny Cash. I was thinking that "Crazy" sounded like a controlled and very lonely meltdown until I imagined that Sabin is post-meltdown: a sketched-out, unsophisticated Kristin Hersh, singing in a padded room, going from a lazy Mazzy-Star-like delivery into a wicked howl that scared The Stranger's photographer into the bathroom. I forgot that Sabin is a mediocre guitar player, that few of the songs were her own, and that if I were to recommend this show to any of my friends, they would murder me for doing so.