More about: Waxahatchee
The term ‘home’ has far less linearity than we give it at face value. Home can be many things, it can be a place, it can be a person, a group of people, a sound or maybe a culmination of various factors. Waxahatchee’s latest album Saint Cloud is an ode to home, filled with intimacy, people and place.
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Katie Crutchfield has shifted her style in tribute to her Alabama roots, taking guitar sounds and instrumentation from country and folk to elicit a powerful whiff of Americana. Saint Cloud’s distinct sound is often staring out at distant vistas, there may be fields of crops steaming silently in the gold of the sun or it may be more nocturnal, as you look across the vastness of the sky above, lit up in purple nightshade, where wonderment leads to feelings of possibility.
Crutchfield wrote this album after becoming sober, although this is not explicitly referenced in the lyrics it is perhaps a key motivator in this lyrical cross-examination. Love is a road often walked down throughout the album, but Crutchfield explores the theme personally and in frequently nuanced ways. There's hopelessly romantic lyricism such as, “when you see me, I’m honey on a spoon” but it is often intercut with self-questioning. ‘Can’t Do Much' is deeply conflicted, admitting that relationships bring together the best and worst in people, underpinned by Crutchfield doubting her sanity, yet accepting love. She ponders about her partners perception of her, is she wild and free or simply a tool for their own satisfaction?
The human condition to love yourself unconditionally is one of the hardest things to obtain in our short lives. ‘Fire’ is a love letter from Crutchfield to herself, the chorus sang with such pain, you can visualise the muscles on her face constraining in a pained wince. But she moves on from this pain to a place of self-acceptance. Concurrent with the theme of self-acceptance is the premise of the track ‘Hell’, “you illuminate me as I galvanise, a flowery demise”, Crutchfield admitting that she is equally culpable of not treating someone in the same light as she was beheld.
The lyrical prose of Crutchfield is tantalising from start to finish, “if my bones are made of delicate sugar, I won’t end up anywhere good without you” she anguishes on ‘Lilacs’, a song where she realises her need to be loved by someone. Saint Cloud feels like a signpost at crossroads for Waxahatchee, where she has fully come to terms with a chapter of her life, now free to travel wherever she may choose.
Katie Crutchfield has meticulously analysed her life through love and it is through this where the album finds resonance, whether it be for people in love or people romanticising the idea of being in love. Saint Cloud offers guidance, accepting that not even something we idolise and long for in society is perfect, in most cases it is messy, complicated and difficult, whilst still hinting that it may all be worth it.
Saint Cloud is released on 27 March 2020 via Merge Records.
More about: Waxahatchee