I have been looking forward to this album ever since I heard Waxahatchee’s fantastic Great Thunder EP from 2018. This is Waxahatchee’s (aka Katie Crutchfield) fifth album and although it may be less raw and innocent than her earlier albums it is just as heartfelt. Waxahatchee wrote this album immediately in the period following her decision to get sober and the album was then recorded last year in Texas and New York with a full band. There is no distortion of guitars on this album unlike her previous albums and at times sounds more like a mixture of Americana and alt-country music.
The music on the album is at times joyous and uplifting and the lyrics are sensitive and early on in the piece quite impassioned. It has a nostalgic feeling about it and similar to the production of early Beatles albums I found that the different instruments are often separate in each speaker. Also, Kate often performs the same singing part twice, and hearing her simultaneous double-tracked vocals gives it a magical, rich thickening of the sound. Often Katie’s sometimes raspy and heartfelt voice reminds me of Elkie Brooks or Janis Joplin from many years ago.
Some songs have lyrics that are very poetic and fiery. On Hell Katie sings “I hover above like a deity, but you don’t worship me….I’ll put you through Hell” and on War she repeatedly sings “I’m in a war with myself, It’s got nothing to do with you” The last three songs lyrically take us to Katie’s home town and wind down the album beautifully. Arkadelphia is a gentle story about a childhood encounter and on St Cloud the final song on the album is very much like a lullaby which looks at mortality and ends on the repeated line “when I go”.
This is an incredible album and very solid all the way through and I would love to hear it live one day from start to finish. In this day and age, we might have to settle for seeing it live on Instagram. We are only in March but for me, this album will be on my end of year top ten list.
Album Review By Richard De Pizzol