Reviewed by Shawn Stewart
In 1994, Kristin Hersh took a sabbatical from her beloved and beleaguered Throwing Muses to record her first solo album, Hips and Makers. Mostly acoustic, entirely personal, Hips’ songs touch the core of Hersh’s daily life, specifically as it involves her husband and family, topics she rarely explored with her band. Produced by ex-Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, Hips and Makers infuses the singer/songwriter tradition with a jolt of complexity and authority. Hersh still favors the taut, stream of consciousness lyrics she whittled down to the bone with the Muses, but she never veers into confessional “dear diary” territory, although she does allow peeks into a world where clotheslines, bee stings, and the occasional ghost aren’t unusual. Musically more measured and clearly quieter than any Muses disc, Hips showcases Hersh’s fluttery voice atop powerful acoustic guitar with flourishes from cello and piano. “Your Ghost,” the album’s moody and dazzling opener, features backup vocals by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and sets the tone for the album: like a family, it’s happy on the surface, intriguing when explored.