Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

An elemental voice for our weary souls, Saint Cloud marks a moment of reckoning for Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee

Album Review by Cheri Amour | 23 Mar 2020
  • Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
Album title: Saint Cloud
Artist: Waxahatchee
Label: Merge
Release date: 27 Mar

There’s something very seasonal about Katie Crutchfield, better known as songwriter Waxahatchee. Perhaps, it’s the roots of that moniker that she took from the creek that circles her parents’ lake house. Or her discography to date that manages to effortlessly tap into our constant state of flux. From the bedrock of Cerulean Salt’s angular punk to 2017’s Out in the Storm – a messy post-mortem of a bad relationship – Crutchfield’s self-reflection is always in tune with our own weary souls.

If her last release felt like an open book of regret and recrimination, Saint Cloud finds her turning inwards like a prayer plant at sunset. Two years ago, the Alabama-born songwriter made the decision to get soberSaint Cloud charts that process as Crutchfield moves with the elements to find her place. She takes a moment of solitude in the indie lilt of Lilacs which conjures up the dark skies and fresh-cut blooms that 'mark the slow passing of time'. The soft organ keys of Fire put you in the warmth of the hearth’s glow as she attempts to move past shame and into a place of unconditional self-acceptance. 

That’s not to say that Saint Cloud is all moments of quiet self-reflection. Crutchfield’s artful command of heartfelt truths is still present and correct. But rather than storybook tropes on love, country-tinged Hell taps into the realities of being intimate with someone whilst recognising our own destructive patterns: 'I hover above like a deity but you don’t worship me / You strip the illusion / You did it well / I put you through hell'. These raw emotions continue in Can’t Do Much as she grapples with the addiction: “I want you / all the time / Love you to the day I’ll die / I guess it doesn’t matter why”.

Sweetly sung ballad The Eye introduces the intricate interplay between Crutchfield and Detroit-based duo Bonny Doon. Alongside Josh Kaufman (Hiss Golden Messenger) and Nick Kinsey (Kevin Morby) the pair bolster her vision with a Badalamenti bassline that could be straight out of the Love Theme from Twin Peaks. And really, Saint Cloud has the ability to drum up the same immense backdrops, dressed with leafy firs, starry nights, and a painful realisation. For FBI Agent Dale Cooper, it was the murder of seemingly innocent high schooler Laura Palmer. For Katie Crutchfield, it’s a much-needed moment of reckoning.

Saint Cloud marks that shift, out of the fug and into the fresh air, as the days get a bit lighter and brighter for us all. 

Listen to: Lilacs, The Eye, Hell