A whole new batch of women are emphasizing the ''artist'' in recording artist. Sam Phillips, thanks to a sultry voice and ironic songwriting touch, has long carried the tag ''critics' darling.'' Her new album, Martinis and Bikinis, puts a rock & roll spin on her soulful, born-again Christian stance. Canadian Sarah McLachlan's third U.S. album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, features her warm, ethereal voice and expressive folk-rock balladry, along with touches of electropop and ambient sound. For 10 years, Kristin Hersh has been known as the voice and creative force behind the acclaimed alternative band Throwing Muses. Now she's finally showcased on her solo debut, Hips and Makers, a beguiling record that's heavy on both poetry and emotion.