Kristin Hersh – Wyatt At The Coyote Palace. (Omnibus Press)
This year marks thirty years since Kristin Hersh made her debut, leading her band Throwing Muses on their self-titled debut. Thirty years on, she remains a truly unique artist, a reminder that the word ‘indie’ is short for independent, as in thinking and working apart from the crowd, as opposed to just guitar-lead music.Her first solo album was 1994’s Hips and Makers
, which led by the Michael Stipe featuring ‘Your Ghost’ single remains the most successful record of her career. There may not be anything quite as immediate here – but nor should we expect there to be: Hersh has never been about catering to expectations. This, her ninth album is a double, twenty-four tracks over two CDs (though us reviewers sadly don’t get a book. For the record, I have now purchased it). For those who have followed her career – and shame on those who haven’t! – the music runs the spectrum from folky to discordant rock and in the case of ‘Some Dumb Runaway’ and ”Detox’ chopping and changing between the two. It’s largely an acoustic album, on the whole, and as is her style, she keeps the listener guessing as to what might happen next.
The title references one of her four sons, Wyatt, who for a time spent time at an abandoned apartment building near her Rhode Island studio that had been taken over by coyotes. As ever, there’s a confessional tone to proceedings, but this is never a wallowing record. There’s a number of excellent songs within – ‘Bright’ ‘Day 3’ and ‘Bubblenet’, though for my money ‘In Stitches’ is the standout track here. Sure it may not be the easiest of albums to digest in one sitting, or indeed the first couple of listens.
Be prepared to be bewildered and to spend time with the record to get to grips with it. Certainly there are more immediate albums in her back catalogue- but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy of your ears. Definitely worth spending time with.