Waxahatchee’s latest concept album is worthy of praise
Waxahatchee’s new album, Out in the Storm is a prime example of an artist’s work aging like a fine wine. This may be the fourth studio album from the Alabama natives, but it’s still just as exciting as the debut — it is equally gripping, austere, and brutally honest. With a multitude of powerful breakup songs that fail to break character, singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield connects to listeners through the story of the inevitable end of a relationship. With the aid of Dinosaur Jr./Sonic Youth producer John Agnello, Out in the Storm intertwines the crucial steps of moving on with the reincarnation of Crutchfield as an individual. Such an honest reinvention is namely different from many breakup albums, which often end up taking on a much more morose mood.
Each emotionally enthralling song invites the listener into a sliver of Crutchfield’s consciousness; while some tracks seem to mold together about halfway through the album, namely “Sparks Fly,” “Brass Beam,” “Hear You,” and “A Little More,” this diversion does little to draw attention away from the fact that this album is musically sound. “Sparks Fly” is a song of astute dissection armed with an acoustic guitar, as Crutchfield thoughtfully examines the relationship she was once a part of. “Brass Beam,” which is the song right after, doesn’t really change too much in tone from the previous track and continues with picking apart the relationship. However, the song does have a twinge of a country, stylistically Dolly Parton sound that makes the track easy to bob one’s head to. “Hear You” is a track with the tempo of the previous song, while “A Little More” goes back to acoustics and piano. The toggle back and forth from the songs can be a little muddled, but if the songs are listened to individually, it isn’t really too much of an issue. One thing to also note is that the work on the piano, executed by Allison Crutchfield, brings life to a song that would otherwise be a tad too slow.
Songs that exceptionally stood out were “Never Been Wrong,” “Silver,” and, “No Question.” “Never Been Wrong,” the first song on the album, discusses the embarrassment of the end of the relationship, starting off as the stimulus for the rest of the album. The blend of the guitar and the vocals makes the song a breath of fresh air, even if it’s tackling a topic that no one likes to talk about. “Silver,” the first single on the album, is both electrifying and and musically blissful, making it the perfect summer track to blast on a car ride home from work. Crutchfield’s voice holds a tone of innocence and insightfulness that reacts like a blast of vibrant color against carefully constructed but robust guitar riffs, supported by Sleater-Kinney guitarist, Katie Harkin. “No Question” starts off with a tenacious bang, with Crutchfield musing in the chorus that what she is going through never ends.
Out in the Storm is a superb name for the album, with each song a little more stoic and memorable than the last.