HIPS AND MAKERS is the first solo outing from Kristen Hersh, frontwoman and singer-songwriter of Throwing Muses, the seminal '80s alt-rock group. Whereas Muses records prove that Hersh can imbue her dark, singular vision with enough edgy sonic aggression to garner underground kudos, this disc explores her softer, more lyrical tendencies. The album is wholly acoustic, augmented throughout with bass, guitar overdubs, and tasteful string arrangements. Such instrumentation perfectly suits Hersh's web-like song structures and her gift for aching melodicism.
As one expects from Hersh, the album is anything but soothing. Poetic, often highly metaphorical lyrics voiced in eerie refrains float through angular, spiraling chord progressions. "Your Ghost," a duet with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, is a masterpiece of haunted love that lingers in the listener's brain like a dream. Such songs as "Sundrops" and "Me And My Charms" are charged with a fearful intensity, revealing the fine line between rage and deep emotional pain. Part of Hersh's appeal is her ability to convey both despair and beauty. "Velvet Days," a love poem to her child and one of Hersh's loveliest songs, is a shining example of the latter. HIPS AND MAKERS is a fierce, moving, and beautiful collection of songs by a wonderful and often overlooked artist.
Rolling Stone (4/7/94, p.72) - 3 1/2 Stars - Good Plus - "...Luminous, alluring and slightly menacing..."
Spin (9/99, p.160) - Ranked #81 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Spin (2/94, p.68) - "...it's a real joy to hear a whole album of Hersh's more delicately downered material, hitherto only seen in glimpses...HIPS is unrelentingly dark. Musically, however, the record dazzles....[Hersh's] voice is as lusciously lacerating as ever..."
Magnet (p.114) - "HIPS AND MAKERS is dark, spare and acoustic..."