The sonic equivalent of flicking the Vs to all that’s getting you down.
Label: Merge Records
Released: 14th July 2017
Any Waxahatchee fans longing for the same sparse, delicate indie folk lullabies as heard on ‘Ivy Trip’ and its predecessors are in for a (mostly) good surprise when it comes to ‘Out in the Storm’.
“‘Out in the Storm’ digs into what I was going through without blinking. It’s a very honest record about a time in which I was not honest with myself,” says Crutchfield. Indeed, nowhere is this more apparent than in the record’s typically heartfelt lyrics and atypically noisy instrumentation. It’s as if ‘Out in the Storm’ is the heated counterpart to ‘Ivy Trip’, the righteous anger that comes after the heartache of a break up, the burn that gets you through the other side of an ended relationship.
If ‘American Weekend’ and ‘Cerulean Salt’ were Waxahatchee’s lonely reflections and introspective efforts, then ‘Out in the Storm’ is Crutchfield’s moment to confront that which she has previously musically side-stepped with a sound that is as fecund as her outpourings. Tracks like ‘Sparks Fly’ and ‘Brass Beam’, for example, in which vocal layering, thick harmonisation and reflective lyrics that allow Crutchfield to tell us, “I see myself through my sister’s eyes”, speak volumes for the benefits of healing through community and support networks.
‘Out in the Storm’ is an effort not just in personal reflection, but in achieving self-awareness through important relationships. Made with the musical input of sister, Allison Crutchfield, on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, Ashley Arnwine on drums, and Katie Harkin on lead guitar at points, this album is the sonic equivalent of flicking the Vs to all that’s getting you down and going to a gig with your pals. It’s the next step of moving on with your life, with help from the best, when things are changing beyond your control.
Trying out a new sound is always a risky game to play – it could end up capturing the attention of new listeners, or, equally, alienate stalwart followers – but Waxahatchee’s evolution of sound feels organic. While ‘Out in the Storm’ could perhaps do with being an extra step away from her previous efforts, that is, even louder, bigger, and more cutting, it has to be remembered that Crutchfield’s tracks seem to work almost like an aural personal diary. The expression in the album feels authentic and cathartic, and fundamentally, that’s all that matters. Rosie Ramsden