Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield (photo by Christopher Good, PR)
As Waxahatchee, singer and songwriter Katie Crutchfield chronicles an intimate and powerful transformation on her fifth solo album, Saint Cloud. Following the release of 2017's Out In The Storm, and the subsequent tour that followed, Crutchfield assessed her life before moving forward, notably her dependency on alcohol and why that needed to change.
A sober way of navigating the world plays a major role on Saint Cloud, reflecting Crutchfield's life-improving decision by examining past experiences and relationships. With this fresh, cathartic collection of songs, Crutchfield faces up to the demons that had taken up residency in her life when she was drinking. This renewed perspective gets coupled with a change in her production and sound too.
Unlike past Waxahatchee albums, Saint Cloud strips away Crutchfield's more raucous edge, seeking a clearer, vivid songcraft that taps into her Birmingham, Alabama-born Americana roots. A palpable artistic clarity runs through all eleven songs, mirroring her personal transformation as well as her admiration for the lilting, country music of her childhood and beyond. “I’ve become so obsessive about people like Lucinda Williams, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris,” Crutchfield told Rolling Stone. “All these country powerhouse women. I wanted to step into that power a little bit.”
That crosscurrent is apparent on both “Can’t Do Much,” a refreshingly bright, country-inspired tune, and on the gentle, midtempo pop gem “Lilacs." Lyrically, Crutchfield is forthright about her personal struggles in tracks like “War” (“I run my soul and body down/If I kept a parasite around/I’ll keep lying to myself/I’m not that untrue/I’m in a war with myself/It’s got nothing to do with you").
In the superb “The Eye,” Crutchfield addresses a loving relationship in lines like, “You paint my body like a rose.” She wrote that song with her boyfriend, fellow musician Kevin Morby, in mind. (The same could be true for the confessions in “Hell.")
Crutchfield does plenty of affectionate name-dropping in “Witches,” singling out her close friends Marlee Grace (who appears in the video for “Lilacs”), Snail Mail's Lindsey Jordan, and Crutchfield’s twin sister and former P.S. Eliot bandmate, Allison.
Crutchfield recorded Saint Cloud (named after her dad's hometown in Florida) in both Texas and New York’s upper Hudson Valley region with Brad Cook producing. Two members of Michigan's Bonny Doon, Bobby Colombo and Bill Lennox, are part of her backing band along with Josh Kaufman (The National) and Nick Kinsey, the latter from Morby's group.
Crutchfield has long been a strong songwriter, but she's achieved something truly sublime with Saint Cloud, excavating her soul and telling her tales of reinvention and real love. Eight years down the line from her debut album, American Weekend, Crutchfield has never sounded more in control or more connected to herself and her artistic vision.