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REVIEW: Kristin Hersh’s ‘Wyatt at the Coyote Palace’ a lot to absorb

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

In our current culture of attention deficit — for example, the music industry tends to favor singles over albums — “Wyatt at the Coyote Palace” by singer/songwriter/author Kristin Hersh is a glaring square peg in a round hole.
It is a book of quirky, sometimes downright disturbing poetry and prose based on true stories and a 24-track double album by the voice of the ‘80s and ‘90s college rock band Throwing Muses and the power trio 50FOOTWAVE.
The unwieldy format must somehow work for Hersh because “Wyatt” — the name of her autism-spectrum son — is her third book-CD release, which began with her previous solo album, “Crooked,” and Throwing Muses’ 2013 release “Purgatory/Paradise.”

IF YOU GO
What: “An Evening with Kristin Hersh.”
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 15.
Where: The Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $20.
Info.: Call (215) 928-0700 or visit www.tinangel.com.

Because there’s a towering heap of stuff going on in “Wyatt,” here’s the important stuff to know when Hersh does a “WXPN presents” solo acoustic concert/book tour event at the Tin Angel:
If you didn’t know she was such a prolific writer, you must not have seen the essays and tour diaries at www.kristinhersh.com. She also wrote “Rat Girl,” a children’s book called “Toby Snax” and “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die,” a personal account of her friendship with the late Vic Chesnutt.
The title “Wyatt at the Coyote Palace” is about Hersh’s son’s fascination with an abandoned apartment building that’s inhabited by coyotes. The building was near the studio where Hersh was recording the songs.
The book includes themes of near-death experiences, water and drugs; disembodied conversation excerpts; and there’s a recipe for something called “hooker gazpacho.”
Hersh plays all instruments on the album — guitar, bass, drums, piano, horns, cello and even field recordings (some are cool, some are just distracting).
Although the stories in the book are from different parts of Hersh’s 50 years of life, the songs were all written in the past five years during a turbulent period in her life. They feature Hersh’s trademark guitar-centric, artsy, experimental style and acerbic humor.

"Wyatt at the Coyote" Palace book cover

“Wyatt at the Coyote” Palace book cover

The two CDs come in ridiculously snug plastic sleeves placed inside the front and back covers of the book. However a track list is not provided. You must go on a treasure hunt in the book. For instance, you discover the title of the track “American Copper” only when you happen to flip to page 36 and stumble upon the lyrics. Arghh!
Hersh has said in an interview that a few listeners who invested in the Throwing Muses “Purgatory/Paradise” project reported feeling “dizzy to the point of nausea to listen and read at the same time.” Thank God, it isn’t just me then.

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