Despite nearly a decade of experience playing in various bands and musical projects, it’s only with the release of ‘Cerulean Salt’, the sophomore effort of latest musical guise Waxahatchee, that 24-year old Alabama native Katie Crutchfield seems to have found her true point of impact; deeply honest, emotional, raw as hell melodic folk-punk. And the sheer brilliance of it is plain to see.
‘Cerulean Salt’ certainly doesn’t try and lure you in under any false pretenses; album opener ‘Hollow Bedroom’ gives it to you as straight as can be, the raw, sloppily played guitar lines and Crutchfield’s weary, gravel-y vocals setting the tone for the bare bones journey you’re about to go on. Tracks are kept minimal, are littered with tiny mistakes, slightly out of tune instruments and rough and ready vocals; but it’s all part of the charm. It’s what makes Waxahatchee’s music so damn brilliant, allowing Crutchfield’s stunning voice and poignant lyricism to cut through all the noise.
Despite all the minimalism, there are some bigger, slightly more built up moments on the album, with ‘Coast to Coast’ going all out on the fuzzy distortion, vocal harmonies and epic drumming. ‘Peace and Quiet’ even has a synth-line in the chorus! Nonetheless, songs are kept short and to the point, never getting too self-indulgent or overly faff-y with drawn out, epic endings. The whole record is in fact an exercise in sub three-minute songwriting, with only three tracks breaking the three-minute barrier.
But the songs all serve their purpose of delivering Crutchfield’s tales of self-discovery, the rejection of tradition, and her quest to hopefully feel true emotion in an attractive, bite-size package. The fuzzy, messy guitars and refreshingly sloppy drumming simply reflect the honesty and truthfulness of her voice and her lyrics, and it all comes together beautifully for a deeply impactful and damn exciting listen. And not a second is wasted.