REVIEW: Waxahatchee - "Saint Cloud"
Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
Review by Nathan Cardiff
If you’ve spent any time reading music reviews recently, you’ve discovered almost universal praise for the newest Waxahatchee record and guess what? This one you’re reading agrees. Katie Crutchfield spent the last decade being a (subtle) chameleon; from her punk days in P.S. Eliot, to her lofi singer-songwriter beginnings under the Waxahatchee moniker, to becoming indie rock royalty with Cerulean Salt, Ivy Tripp, and Out in the Storm (a personal favorite from the 2010s). If you’ve followed along with her social media presence or seen her live in the last two years, the evolution to Saint Cloud feels natural. At the beginning of 2018, Crutchfield and Kevin Morby covered two Jason Molina tracks (“Farewell Transmission” & “The Dark Don’t Hide It”) and showed her heartland rock side. This feels important because of the shift in Crutchfield’s live presence: she covered Lucinda Williams at shows, began touring solo with a more stripped down set, and then adopted Detroit’s Bonny Doon as her backing band. 2018 also marked the release of Great Thunder, a reworking of material she had written earlier in the decade. Its sparse beauty was a flash of things to come.
I don’t think Crutchfield has ever hidden her Alabama roots, but Saint Cloud brings them to the forefront. Her Americana laced material is honest, stunning, and supremely catchy (“Lilacs” is without a doubt the best track of 2020 so far (check out the awesome music video as well)). It starts with a slight swerve; “Oxbow” has a glitchy, cool harmony before the folky side takes over. Her Southern twang fits with a small town vibe; the cover of the album’s old Ford truck looks like something I saw driving around my own hometown every day of my youth. It’s got a rawness and wisdom of someone who has seen the world but appreciates the smallest detail (“Arkadelphia”). Saint Cloud is excellently executed and an exciting addition to the Waxahatchee discography. A calm force in uncertain times.
Favorite Tracks: “Fire,” “Lilacs,” & “War”
RIYL: Lucinda Williams, Bonny Doon, Pinegrove