Kristin Hersh: Listen. Now. Or. She will hunt you down.
31st October 2016
Title: Wyatt at the Coyote Palace
Label: Omnibus Press
We journalists feel compelled to do this every time KR is mentioned. It’s like a preface to a book or a mantra. [deep breath] Born in the USA (but in a distinctly un-Springsteen-like manner), KR is a singer, songwriter and author known now for her innovative solo projects but even better known as the front girly for the rock bands, Throwing Muses and 50FootWave. She has…yada, yada, yada…End of Preface.
To the present, though and what a lovely thing. This edition of the new Hersh album that I’m holding here. Spread over two CDs, the discs are fixed inside the front and rear hard covers of a book that features the lyrics to the songs plus other scribblings.
As for the songs themselves. There’s a strange dichotomy going on. A contrast that is appealing yet a little surprising. Firstly, you have Hersh’s own delivery. Raspy. Slightly croaky. Moving slowly, ever gradually towards Tom Waits in a skirt. Insinuating. Whispering. As if you are standing next to her in the queue in Tescos (admittedly quite a long queue) and she’s quietly singing the songs to you out of the corner of her mouth. She has to tell someone. She’s bursting. She can’t hold it in any longer. So she croaks it out to you in this queue while you embarrassingly stare at the bread rolls that you’re holding and wondering why this crazy women is doing this to you, roping you into her madness. Including you.
It’s like she doesn’t really want to perform this album but she has to.
Meanwhile – and this is the contrast – the production on this album is BIG. It’s closely mic’d with detailed, full and rich close-up examination of the acoustic guitar. Drums are bold, large and all-encompassing. Beautifully mastered, the music has a big soundstage.
Each note, though, is forensically examined. It’s almost as if each note has to clear customs before it is allowed to journey towards your ear. The music seems carefully considered and checked. Frisked, even.
There’s more than attention to detail going on here with Hersh. This is an album full of intensity. Intense intensity, actually. It’s also quite, quite stunning.
Buy it. I don’t care if you don’t even like Hersh, just buy it. I don’t care if you never play it and use it as an ornament above the fireplace. Just buy it. It’ll be good karma.