“Our lives get itchy, we peel ’em off, start over. Like Wyatt says, crossing a threshold and starting a new life.” The third in Kristin Hersh‘s CD/book series following her own Crooked and Throwing Muses‘ staggering 2013 rebirth Purgatory/Paradise, Wyatt at the Coyote Palace (a reference to her young son’s fascination with a local abandoned apartment building) is her most ambitious yet: a dizzying two disc set that works supporting text material into the cracks surrounding its two dozen songs. Between the covers: stories, poems, photographs, even recipes. As ever with Hersh, it feels like yet another new start, a gathering of resources, an unmarked path crying out for mapping. With trace elements of her own fascinating history (long-term Muses fans will marvel at tales of tour life in extremis), and a deeply moving picture of parental love, Wyatt … claims a high spot in her own increasingly statuesque canon.
A one woman band, Hersh plays everything here: a DIY ethos whose (largely) acoustic guitars and rattling percussion are as much an indicator of her continuing independence as the album’s listener-supported – via her CASHMusic model – provenance. There’s nothing indulgent about the 80 minute running time, either – songs work to earn their place. They come roughened and raging, but they come quietly, too; and often they are as fragile and beautiful as you would hope and expect from an artist whose clear-sighted and unflinching worldview knows as much about putting fires out as it does about starting them. And then there’s the voice. When she pushes it a little on ‘Secret Codes’, the gravel it has acquired over time slips for a moment and there’s a glimpse of its original oscillating, scratchy texture: a thrill. A fleshed out, full blooded, bone-deep excavation of a vision as alive as it ever was, Wyatt at the Coyote Palace represents the re-opening of a dialogue between artist and listener built on little more than, huh, love and trust. You know – how it used to be. Never let go.