Cerulean Salt by Waxahatchee (Album)

13 March, 2013 in Music Reviews

Waxahatchee

Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield seems set to secure adoration, as second album Cerulean Salt takes the personal and makes it universal

waxahatchee cerulean saltany an artist has created a cult of interest in their personality by taking the internal and making it universal: Ian Curtis, Morrissey or Kurt Cobain to name but a few. There’s something comforting in having a stranger paint your portrait with their lyrics and doing a much better job of it than you could. Those with the genius for making others see themselves in their work are destined to be treasured, and it seems Cerulean Salt will see Alabama songwriter and former P.S. Eliot member Katie Crutchfield, AKA Waxahatchee, securing such adoration.

Cerulean Salt is the follow-up to 2012’s American Weekend, an album of lo-fi, bedroom indie-folk that was so emotionally raw that, if you listen closely, you might hear Crutchfield’s fingernails scratching against her scalp as she buries her head into her hands. It bore resemblance to Elliott Smith’s outstanding, yet harrowing, self-titled second album, with Crutchfield sharing Smith’s knack for describing the evil of banality in terms that are bare, yet poetic.

The opening lyrics of track one on Cerulean Salt, Hollow Bedroom, make this point murderously clear: “I left like I got my way but truly I left with nothing at all/When I saw you the next day I knew they’d hear our breath through these walls/We are late, we are loud/we remain connected as you’re reading out loud/You’re in a state, you’re flowered with nerves and shadows and truth’.

“Waxahatchee has gone electric”

It’s at this point, 42 seconds in, that you discover album number two is a little different from its predecessor, a distorted guitar line creeps as Crutchfield sings “And it swept in like a strong wind’ – Waxahatchee has gone electric. Crutchfield still wields her acoustic guitar with ferocious stoicism, but now she’s buttressed by the indie-rock of P.S. Eliot and is comfortable shifting between this and the bedroom folk of American Weekend.

It’s not just her choice of guitar that has seen development. Crutchfield’s songwriting has grown even stronger, resulting in a number of tracks to treasure. The excellent Kimya Dawson-esque indie-pop of Lips And Limbs. Brother Bryan with its brutally self-reflective lyrics, ‘I said to you on the night that we met I am not well… Speak of bearings undone, silver hair in the sun, we are only 30 percent dead and our parents go to bed early, we destroy all of our esteem and the sunlight starts to shine through the trees’. Lively, with a guitar line from the Pavement school of songwriting. The aching Swan Dive.

Seeing yourself in the works of others lends a personal touch to the connection felt with their music, as if they exist just to script and soundtrack your existence. Cerulean Salt’s unguarded revealing of Katie Crutchfield’s inner self seems set to provide the personal soundtrack to a number of existences.

Verdict: Lo-fi bedroom indie-folk meets indie rock on this strong second release

Damien Girling