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Waxahatchee - Out In The Storm (Album Review)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 Written by Huw Baines

Neil Sedaka was right. Breaking up is hard to do.

And then there’s the question of what happens next. There are the basics of deciding what to do and where to go, but also the reality that these tasks must be navigated while carrying a jarring, raw set of emotions on your back.

On ‘Out in the Storm’ Katie Crutchfield is both at the centre of this maelstrom and stood to one side, with an uncertain but exciting future ahead once her feet start moving again.

She has been in a similar spot before, on her solo bow as Waxahatchee, ‘American Weekend’. Released in 2012, that record lived in a space that was exceptionally vulnerable and every bit as frank. "You don't want to be my boyfriend, I don't want to be your girl. And that's a relief,” Crutchfield sang on Be Good.

She adopts a similar brass tacks approach here. There are lines on ‘Out in the Storm’ that crackle with hurt, others that betray a sense of confusion and several that drip with spite.

All of them, though, are posited by Crutchfield as part of the same process: a deeper understanding of herself through decoding the (sometimes vicious) to and fro of a relationship. “I had to go, I put it out just like a cigarette,” she sings on Brass Beam. “I’ll never be a girl you love or trust or you respect.” Moments later: “I just want to run, I don’t want to fight. I just want to sing my songs and sleep through the night.”

The ties to ‘American Weekend’ can be heard on a song like the pared back A Little More, but elsewhere Crutchfield’s skill as a bandleader rings out. Marshalling musicians including her sister, Allison, and Sleater-Kinney touring guitarist Katie Harkin, she embroiders dense, powerful wedges of distortion with subtle hooks and gentle keys.

‘Out in the Storm’ is also beautifully paced, with its bold rock songs bursting through the spaces left by more spacious acoustic moments. Where 2015’s ‘Ivy Tripp’ was a success chiefly for its tonal variety, its follow up is seamless.

Producer John Agnello keeps things streamlined, always foregrounding Crutchfield’s melodies while letting her sentiments breathe. That’s never more apparent than in the transition from No Question’s rich college rock fuzz into the serene closer, Fade. “You wring me out, I tell the truth: I feel amazing today,” Crutchfield sings. “You interrupt, you yell in my face. But you finally hear me say that I'll walk. I'm walking away.”

This feels like the most fully realised Waxahatchee release to date, but that might only be the case for a short period of time. Crutchfield’s solo work has already comprised rickety acoustic pop, synth investigations and sparkling alt-rock and will likely go somewhere else in future. That sets the scene for ‘Out in the Storm’ to stand alone, both musically and thematically, as a pillar in her discography. It suits that role perfectly.

Waxahatchee Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon September 04 2017 - LONDON Garage
Tue September 05 2017 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Wed September 06 2017 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Thu September 07 2017 - BRIGHTON Komedia (Big Room)

Click here to compare & buy Waxahatchee Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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