After founding her influential artpunk band Throwing Muses in Providence, RI, at the age of 14, Kristin Hersh has spent decades confounding expectations and breaking rules, both hers and others.
From life as the reluctant frontperson for the Muses, to the solo career she swore would never happen, through the founding of an ambitious and altruistic nonprofit, to her recent foray into a successful career as an author, Kristin, now a mother of four, didn’t see much of this coming.
Throwing Muses first gained recognition playing on bills with similarly singular artists like the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. They signed with the highly regarded British indie label 4AD Records the label’s first American signing and then to Warner Bros in the U.S. Kristin’s solo career spun off in 1994 with the release of Hips and Makers . The CD was widely acclaimed and included “Your Ghost,” a duet with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. This was followed by eight more critically acclaimed and influential solo records. Kristin often plays all instruments on her solo releases, including this year’s Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, recorded over a 4 year period, on the island where Kristin grew up. Wyatt at the Coyote Palace is both a book and a 24 song record.
“I’m drawing on the urgency of the moment,” reflects Grant-Lee Phillips. “The things that eat away in the late hours…”
That urgency inspired the headlong rush of Widdershins – available February 23 via Yep Roc – in which Grant-Lee Phillips invests the insight, nuance, and wit that has distinguished his songcraft over the past three decades in a riveting dissection of today’s fraught social landscape. Beneath the moment’s tumultuous veneer, Phillips uncovers resonances spanning centuries – patterns echoing from the present day to the distant past. Its twelve tracks were cut largely live in the studio with the sharp trio of Phillips (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jerry Roe (drums), and Lex Price (bass) serving as messengers. Says Phillips, “This moment is explosive, volatile, and heightened. It’s important to me that the music reflect that…”
By turns sardonic, provocative, and illuminating, Widdershins (produced by Phillips and mixed by Tucker Martine) delivers its poetic truths through Phillips’s peerless melodic sensibilities, carefully balancing intensity and vulnerability. A now seasoned songwriter and performer, with more than two decades’ experience first as frontman of the acclaimed Grant Lee Buffalo then as an accomplished solo artist, Phillips awakens comfort and hope by shining light into darker corners. “I hope to express my faith in people, my faith in the good ideas we’re capable of, and that regardless of what opposition we face, the fact that we can surmount these things,” he concludes. “We can stare them down, laugh at them, belittle them, and drive the darkness back into a hole.